Politics & Government

Charlotte City Council meetings have seemed like infomercials. That may now stop.

The City Council voted 8-3 to streamline how it issues awards and proclamations. Universoul Circus director of operations Ben Johnson (right) was honored Monday.
The City Council voted 8-3 to streamline how it issues awards and proclamations. Universoul Circus director of operations Ben Johnson (right) was honored Monday. Steve Harrison

In the last year, the City Council has wrestled with issues such as abortion protestors, the Keith Scott shooting and the city’s role in enforcing federal immigration laws.

They have also honored the Universoul Circus, a for-profit venture that recently visited Charlotte.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts has declared that October was Driven Car Care Brands Month.

And council members have given a special shout-out for Diwali Festival Day, which was Oct. 30.

Awards and proclamations have always been a part of council meetings. But council members and city staff have complained privately that the process has become bloated, sometimes lasting an hour as people in the audience wait for their chance to speak about city business.

When someone is given a proclamation, they often speak well past their allotted time and no one asks them to stop. Meanwhile, speakers on issues such as police shootings and abortion must adhere to a strict three-minute limit per person.

Frustrated council members voted 8-3 Monday to streamline how they give out awards and proclamations. The vote came after nearly an hour of recognitions for the circus, women who work in the restaurant industry, child abuse prevention, and a Day of National Service – which clearly frustrated many on the dais.

Among the changes: The council will read the proclamation, and the person or group is being honored will be recognized from their seats. The old practice involved the city reading the proclamation, and then the person being honored would often give a lengthy speech thanking the city for honoring them.

Photos will be taken before or after the council meeting – not during the meeting, as was the old practice.

“Look at how long other people have to wait before they have their opportunity to speak,” said council member Patsy Kinsey, who voted for the changes. “Tonight was a good example of that. Things are getting a little out of hand.”

Kenny Smith, who also supported the changes, said the council began considering changes after Roberts recognized Driven Car Care Brands.

“We did an infomercial,” he said. “That was something that spurred this conversation.”

But council members James Mitchell, Al Austin and Dimple Ajmera voted against the streamlined process. Roberts also said she wanted to give the people being honored more time to speak.

“I never want us to get away from recognizing our citizens,” Mitchell said. “I caution us on the message we are sending.”

Austin said the city should “recognize people who do good.”

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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