The formal Phoenix City Council meeting occurred on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013. The public meeting at the Phoenix City Council Chambers had the agenda of the liquor license bill and review of the planning code for construction projects within the Phoenix district.
Before entrance into the public chambers, members of the public had to register at the North West entrance door. Among the detail, we were expected to provide the age, street, national identification number and citizenry of each attendee.
The meeting commenced at 3.00pm after a short prayer by Pastor Jonnies and singing of the National Anthem directed by Council Johnson. All the nine council members confirmed attendance from Mayor Greg Stanton to his deputy.
The meeting commenced smoothly as members of the council presented their concerns and progress of past projects approved by the council in their areas of representation. Surprisingly, the public gallery had only a handful of attendees despite the big space reserved for them in the outer circle of the hall. The council members were seated in a semi-circular dais with the mayor occupying the highest seat in the front row.
The meeting was properly organized and each speaker was expected to observe a five minutes allocation for discussing issues arising from the two main bills on liquor and environmental concerns in construction within the city of Phoenix.
The most interesting presentation was that of Council Johnson on the scope of liquor licensing, especially in restaurants that are located near schools and public places like parks and other recreational centers.
The debate on the scope of the liquor bill dragged for one and a half hours with each member of the council giving their opinion on the best model to be adopted to minimize conflict of interest with the central government and the police authority.
The tall, dark-skinned Council Johnson defended the proposed liquor bill by reflecting on his past experience with an anonymous restaurant located near a public school that actually had a liquor license despite the clear stipulation on licensing approval.
The process of requesting for a permission to speak really attracted my interest. Any person within the chamber who wanted to speak had to request for the permission from the city mayor by pressing a button that would alert the mayor.
The process of pressing the button and receiving a response from the mayor was almost instant. However, each potential speaker had to wait for their turn, depending on the time when the request was made. The sergeant at arms in the council meeting chambers had the responsibility of regulating each speaker and passing different documents from one council member to another.
The speakers were generally organized and had good command of the bill they were presenting to the house. When speaking, a council member or a guest was required to stand and move closer to the microphone fitted in each seat.
Among the other expertise in attendance included the Phoenix’s liquor board chairperson and three representatives of the law enforcement authority. Each member of this expert group was allocated ten minutes to explain the proposed bill from a policy and implementation perspective.
The main concern raised by a member of the law enforcement representatives was that the process of liquor licensing should be proactive and thorough to make the policing part sustainable. The council members then permitted public participation. In order to participate in the meeting as an ordinary citizen, one had to fill the permission to speak card that were distributed to those in the public gallery before the meeting started.
The permission to speak card had sections that would clearly indicate the type of request to speak. There was the compliment part, the complaint part, and the clarification part. Specifically, those in the public gallery permitted to speak during the meeting were allocated three minutes each for the ten selected persons representing different religious, social and political interest in the subject of discussion.
I noticed that the mayor had the right to stop or permit a member of the public chambers to continue speaking before or after expiry of the three minutes talk time. The process was repeated for the preceding agendas.
The most surprising attendee in the public gallery was the local celebrity Smith Anthony, who is a goodwill ambassador for responsible drinking and good health. This attendee was enjoying attention from both the council and public members in the meeting.
Upon getting a chance to speak, Mr. Smith waved a responsible drinking placard and then gave his piece on the subject. After that, the meeting proceeded smoothly until its closure at 5.30pm in the evening. The meeting was closed after a short prayer by Council Daniel.
I noted that the mayor was accorded the privilege of being the first to leave the venue, followed by the deputy mayor and other council members. The public was then directed to leave through the North West entrance after returning the visitor tags.
Summary of the meeting and outcome of the agenda
The main actions that were proposed by the council was adopting a hybrid liquor licensing system to ensure that inflows and outflows are balanced in the liquor department include partnerships with the stakeholders and partners in the restaurant business for the city.
In the construction code agenda, the meeting proposed a focus on public awareness of issues on efficiency, affordability, and environmental friendliness in construction. These developments are aimed at improving efficiency, growth and human development in running the construction department.
Technical Communication as a subject has also undergone a lot of metamorphosis due to emerging technology. Other than the economic gains of supporting the construction bill, the mayor asserted that there have been benefits in the areas of culture and governance in the quest for efficiency and affordability in the present construction sustainability drives.
Mayor Greg Stanton and his deputy were commissioned by the shareholders to enlist more expertise views on the liquor and construction sustainability bills.
An ideal example which was given by a concerned ordinary citizen in the meeting as a negative externality in the current construction projects is the continuous uncontrolled polluting activities. As a result of the pollution, the whole community has to incur the cost of poor health and possible clean up to restore the clean environment.
The mayor reminded the council members and the public that sustainable progress is an issue stirred by drift from an ideal thought to a supreme endeavor to tackle emerging problems and ecological problems. This category of revolution has endeavored to solve existing social problems.
For this reason, urban planners were requested to develop a mechanism to cater for space in the urban centers as well as the increase in trend over environmental pollution. In addition, the planners should address issues tied to social resources.
Council John was categorical that the planning system for the Phoenix construction codes should apply the social approach to uniting groups to unearth information and ideas on the problems affecting them.
Among the aspired ideals of the heuristic model in construction code rehabilitation includes the need for a constituency to strive to develop a good culture by fostering a strong alignment with the monitored path of achieving its goals, missions and vision.
An adaptation of the sociological approach in environmental impact assessment of the construction sustainability code recommendation was suggested to be inclusive of an environmental committee that would clear the weighty issues surrounding technical and institutional assumptions in establishing a universal policy on construction planning.
The common ground that was proposed to be fostered by the above committee would be the stimulus of free activities and proactive engagements for all the interest institutions, persons, and extra-institutional groups. The micro-level analysis required personalized approach which will indicate an imminent and forthcoming need for personnel who can function as implementation experts for the two bills.
The meeting did not have any confrontation incidence as is often the case in most of the council meetings. I learned that planning a bill that was proposed by the council had to be forwarded to the relevant expertise groups for policy reviews.
The council unanimously voted in support of the two proposed bills on liquor and construction planning. However, there was a recommendation that the liquor bill should be reviewed to clear the ambiguous part of the definition of a liquor restaurant within the Phoenix City.