Tacoma City Council will vote Tuesday on a pilot project that would take a public comment period called Citizen’s Forum out of council chambers and into neighborhoods to engage residents who cannot reach the meeting.
Some Tacoma leaders say Citizen's Forum has turned into a nasty and disrespectful shouting session where councilmembers are at times verbally attacked.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said at times councilmembers have been threatened during Citizen's Forum.
"We are adults. We know this is a contact sport. We are not so fragile that we can't handle criticism, but what I've seen happen over time is of major concern," said Strickland.
It’s also been described by Councilwoman Lauren Walker Lee as an at times ineffective and unproductive way to engage with citizens on issues in the city of Tacoma. Walker Lee proposed the pilot project, which would not be televised.
"Why would you do that? What is wrong with listening to the citizens?" said Tacoma resident Sherry Brockwinkle, who opposes the idea.
Brockwinkle said for some residents, Citizen’s Forum is their only time to address council face to face, and taking it away would be taking away a valuable time for public comment.
"This is just another way to scatter our collective energy and prevent the citizens from having a voice to the rest of the community during each month. They’re taking away our ability to keep organizing,” she said.