Maybe I have attended too many council meetings. Or maybe I just assumed (bad idea) that readers know what I know. Either way, apparently, I did not make it very prominent news in today’s Pioneer that the Bemidji City Council did, in fact, hold the first reading of an ordinance that would allow for a 2 a.m. bar closing time.
I did a preview on the council meeting for Sunday’s Pioneer, so regular readers (I thought) would be aware that the the item was on the agenda for yesterday’s meeting. And then I included a very brief note in a a very brief story in today’s Pioneer saying the first reading was held.
Why not do more?
Well, I could have. I could have included the one paragraph that the council did hold the first reading and then a whole bunch of repeated information that already has been reported before. But, really, the whole first reading took up all of maybe 2 minutes of the council meeting. In fact, it went by so quickly that I missed it, because someone had come into the meeting a few minutes late and asked me a question about the agenda packet. I actually had to re-watch the 2-minute portion of the council meeting when I returned to the office to make sure that the first reading was, in fact, held.
Not that that is unusual. Most (not all) first readings of ordinances are held without discussion. Sometimes there are ordinances that prompt discussion or debate about definitions or terms (i.e. ordinances that govern the allowance of keeping chickens and farm animals). But, generally, most debate does not occur until the second reading, during which the council holds the public hearing on the proposed ordinance.
So come Dec. 6, I expect more debate. From both the public and the council.
And, really, that is what Councilor Kevin Waldhausen has been seeking from the beginning of this most recent 2 a.m. discussion. Whether you agree with him or not, Kevin all along has said he wants to see the ordinance process through to give the public a chance to voice its opinions.
Sure, the public could have before voiced its thoughts in letters, e-mails and phone calls during the previous work sessions that discussed the 2 a.m. bar closing time. But never before (that I am aware of) has the ordinance process on the proposed change been held. Never before was a formal public hearing held.
And that is slated for Dec. 6.