This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Have you ever wanted to give the Salt Lake County Council a piece of your mind but couldn't because its meetings are during the day while you're at work?
Starting Tuesday, you will be able to call into the council's meetings either its work session or the formal 4 p.m. session on a newly arranged citizen call-in line: 385-468-7480.
Richard Snelgrove, the Republican councilman who led the push for "openness, transparency and accountability," said that giving residents the chance to speak to the council via telephone will help people "know how their business is being conducted, how their money is being spent."
Democrat Jim Bradley, who co-sponsored the effort, called it a "step in the right direction in doing what we can to engage the public in a way that is meaningful. … I'm eager to see how it works. If it doesn't, we'll think something else up."
People won't be able to call in at any old time.
The council already has time set aside at the beginning of its workshop and council meetings, giving anyone who approaches the podium at least three minutes to bring an issue to the council's attention or simply to express their views.
Now, during that time, people may call in to share their thoughts. The council's formal session always starts at 4 p.m., so the call-in time would be in the first few minutes of the meeting.
But the starting time of the work session varies weekly depending on how much business is on the agenda. So anyone eager to speak at that meeting will have to check the council's website http://www.slco.org/council-agendas to see when it begins.
Council staff members Bart Barker and Amber Liechty showed how the system will work at the last meeting, enlisting several county employees to call in.
"This is fun. This is like talk radio," quipped Council Chairman Max Burdick as he fielded the practice calls.
Councilman Steve DeBry wasn't as sold on the idea as his colleagues, observing that potential problems exist.
"Is the person really who they say they are?" he offered as one example. "Will we have vitriolic, mean calls, almost obscene? I guess we'll have to take the bad with the good."
Liechty, who received council praise for implementing the system for just $2,000 of the $5,000 budgeted, said the system will allow her to cut off out-of-control callers.
Bradley doesn't expect that to be needed often, joking "it would take a lot to offend us."
Barker, a veteran of county government for decades, said he doesn't expect many residents to take advantage of the opportunity, but at least it will be available for those who do.
County Council calls
P The public may call into Salt Lake County Council meetings by dialing 385-468-7480.