The City of Madison Common Council moved to not allow public comment on a resolution that would serve a new role in independently assessing the Madison Police Department in their virtual meeting tonight.
As protests following the police-involved death of George Floyd continue around the country and in Madison tonight, the Common Council introduced resolution 60764 to create an MPD Ad Hoc Recommendation Oversight Committee. This resolution would form a board composed of community members to independently review and make recommendations to MPD in accordance with an annual report documenting police-community relations and policing practices.
It was concluded during the meeting the council could not discuss the resolution due to the procedural process of opening city items to public comment. Since the item was added to the agenda late, the council moved to suspend procedural rules in order to discuss the item and open the resolution up to public comment.
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City Attorney Michael Haas said the council could not use the suspension of the procedural rules to discuss the item. According to Haas, the item could not be discussed because of “rolling fair notice to the public.”
“Given what is noticed on the agenda that the item would be … introduced for referral only without debate, it is in the best practice of the council not to discuss those items,” Haas said. “I think if the council would like to start the practice of allowing discussion and debate and possible action on those items, it should provide the public with more notice than simply suspending the rules on the meeting.”
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway confirmed the council would not be taking public comment or discussing the item at the meeting. But Rhodes-Conway encouraged the public to register in support or opposition and to speak about the resolution at the June 16 Common Council meeting.
While the item was officially excluded from tonight’s consent agenda, Rhodes-Conway noted 372 people registered in support of the MPD Ad Hoc Recommendation Oversight Committee while six registered in opposition.
According to an alternative draft of the resolution listing it as the Civilian Oversight Committee, the board would be appointed by the mayor and the Common Council with the specific goal to represent a diverse coalition of community voices.
The members will be nominated from several community-based organizations with interests in civil rights, social justice and the safety of the city. Additionally, 25-40% of the board will be composed of members who have experienced homelessness, mental health, substance abuse, and arrest or convictions records.
Ald. Tag Evers, District 13, expressed his “dismay” at the council’s inability to debate and discuss the committee at the present meeting.
“I’m deeply disappointed,” Ald. Evers said in the meeting. “I wish our council president would have taken the initiative to introduce the under suspension of the rules.”