Government hearings are where it’s at. Pearl Jam calling out Ticketmaster in front of Congress? So gratifying. The Gettysburg Hearings in 1864? We can only assume they were lit. The Brett Kavanaugh grilling? He likes beer.
Democracy is supposed to include everyone’s voice, but for a long time, Denverites could only speak at the weekly legislative meetings of their elected representatives if the topic required it or if the Denver City Council chose to grant a “courtesy hearing.”
City Councilman Paul Kashmann has been chipping away at that tradition for a while. First, he introduced monthly public hearings on any topic — compost collection, how hot it is, dog food smells — for 30 minutes (three minutes per speaker) before the council’s Monday meetings. Those free-for-alls were popular, so the council expanded the sessions to twice monthly.
On Tuesday, Kashmann proposed a bill to hand locals a megaphone every Monday the council meets.
“I think we do a great service to our community by allowing them to present their opinions on what they think about what we’re doing and what they think about what we ought to be doing,” Kashmann told his colleagues during a committee meeting this week.
The move even earned praise from Jesse Parris, an activist with Denver Homeless Out Loud and other organizations who speaks at nearly every public hearing. He’s called the council’s public hearing rules “fascist” in the past. But on Tuesday, donning a “Fuck Trump” hat and a “Black God” sweatshirt, one of the most outspoken and government-skeptical people in Denver gave Kashmann props.
“To hear that Kashmann has put this proposal forward where he’s basically giving everybody ample opportunity to speak is much appreciated,” Parris said.
Parris wasn’t satisfied with the allotted time for public comment, though. He wants to see hearings longer than 30 minutes.
The full Council will vote on the rule change later this month.
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