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Homeless, Advocates Upset with Sac Council's Public Comment Time Change



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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
They say the move appears to be aimed specifically at them - and they're planning to challenge the council at Tuesday night's session.
Until now, the public could address the Sacramento City Council on any issue not on the agenda at the start of each week's meeting. But last week, a split council voted to move public comments to the end of meetings. During the debate, Councilwoman Lauren Hammond was the most vocal supporter of the change.
 
Hammond: "Particular interest groups will no longer be able to monopolize (the) public's opportunity to speak to us."
 
Hammond pointed to meetings where she says public comments lasted far too long.
 
Hammond: "Even if they seem like they've only been a few, they've been torturous."
 
But homeless advocates say the change makes public comment too unpredictable and too late at night. And they say it'll disenfranchise homeless people who come each week to advocate for a safe and legal campsite. Joan Burke is with the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen.
 
Burke: "It's one of the very few times the council gets to hear directly from citizens. So it's very, very disturbing that the council is shifting that time."
 
Burke is organizing a group of homeless people to address the council during Tuesday night's public comment. That comment will be at the end of the meeting.
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