CHICAGO (CBS) — The mayor of Southwest suburban Oak Forest insists it’s not something new, but a request that questions from the public be put in writing at City Council meetings is now a written policy.
Mayor Hank Kuspa says that, for quite some time, he’s verbally asked people to submit questions in writing in addition to asking them at City Council meetings. He says he is not trying to duck questions or to stifle public participation, rather, he wants to ensure people get the answers they are looking for.
“If it is simple, everyday stuff that we can answer, we’re happy to do it, and we’ll do it on the spot.” But Kuspa adds, “Some of the community development questions can be complex and need legal review,” before being answered. Furthermore, he says city staffers who would have these answers are often not present at the meetings and need to be consulted.
Mayor Kuspa says Oak Forest has not had a hired lawyer regularly at Council meeting in years, thus saving taxpayers dollars by having any legal questions asked all at once the following day.
According to Oak Forest City Administrator Troy Ishler, this is the new policy: “The City Council invites public comment at its meetings. However, the Council generally does not have the ability to provide immediate responses to questions raised during public comment and does not want to mislead with partial or potentially misleading information provided without some reasonable opportunity for consideration or study. The community deserves thoughtful and informed responses to its inquiries. In order to provide proper and more complete responses to questions, such questions will be referred to City staff for review and consideration and a timely response.”