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New Railing Added To Sioux Falls City Council Chamber

January 10, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

New Railing Added To Sioux Falls City Council Chamber
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

As parts of Caregie Town Hall get a facelift, the Sioux Falls City Council chambers got a new addition as well.

"Part of the discussion was actually whether or not to put a railing here in front of the council diaz, and this is in place because there have been individuals over the years that have approached city council members during a meeting," Sioux Falls City Council Operations Manager Jim David said.

It's a noticeable change and the room now resembles their previous council chamber over at City Hall.

"We had restrictions on how you could come to the city council members from behind us. Now, we have it extended out in front of us," Sioux Falls City Council member Kermit Staggers said.

Issues at city council meetings sometimes require intense discussion and deliberation, and any interruption in this could lead to a long evening for everyone.

"It's just a way to keep the meeting, the integrity of the meeting, in place, to stop individuals from approaching council members during discussion, especially during those controversial topics," David said.

To Staggers, that concern was not shared by him.

"Well, definitely, it's going to keep people further away from the city council members, there's not doubt about it. Let me just mention that I never thought we really had any problem in the first place," Staggers said.

While there is now a physical barrier between the city council members and the people at the city council meetings, it's not about safety at all. It's more about organization during the meeting itself.

"This railing, I mean, how much safety is it really going to provide? For somebody who really wants to take action against a council member, it's not going to provide much at all. You just hop right over the railing," Staggers said.

The hope is that this barrier helps meetings go as smoothly as possible.

"The council members are there to deliberate, to discuss important issues, and interrupting them during that is not really helpful to the process," David said.

If people want to speak to council members individually, they can still do so before the meeting starts. Once things get going, the goal is to allow for a full-council discussion on any issues that may be raised.

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