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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg City Council to consider time clock on meetings



The St. Petersburg City Council has a reputation for long meetings. Really long meetings.

On the third Thursday of the month, the minutes before the 3 p.m. start time is often a prelude to informal bets among council members as to when they'll conclude business. Midnight is pretty popular. 

An Aug. 20 meeting didn't wrap up until after 1:30 a.m. as council members grappled with a complicated historical preservation ordinance.  The resulting decision irked some preservationists.

 Jeff Danner, a former council member and preservationist, chided the council in an open forum on Sept. 3 for making decisions when they were fatigued.

So council member Karl Nurse on Thursday suggested changing council procedures to table any agenda items after 11 p.m. until the next meeting.

"We have seen that we all struggle to make rational decisions after so many hours," Nurse wrote in a new busines item memo.

Since committee meetings and one-on-one meetings often start at 8 a.m. on council meeting days, council member often spend up to 15 or 16 hours listening, debating and deciding policy, Nurse wrote.

At Thursday's agenda review, Nurse joked that he wanted to create a "pillow-free zone." 

Will Nurse's idea be tabled if the council doesn't get to it before 11 p.m.? quipped City Administrator Gary Cornwell.

Considering the Oct. 1 meeting starts at 8:30 a.m., it's safe bet. Maybe.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 24, 2015 6:22pm]


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