What started as a discussion Tuesday about Collier County Commissioners being more civil to each other morphed into plans to provide back-up reading material ahead of time when commissioners put issues on the agenda.
The board also may look at tweaking how routine items on the consent agenda can be moved to the regular agenda for a discussion.
Commissioner Tom Henning requested a discussion Tuesday about board members improving their behavior with one another after several terse exchanges between Commission Chairman Fred Coyle and Commissioner Georgia Hiller in recent months. What ignited the exchanges was the county’s contract with Paradise Advertising and its $50,000 donation to the county’s musuem on Marco Island and to Freedom Memorial at Freedom Park.
Commissioner Jim Coletta likewise provided a list of ideas for how items should be added or removed from agendas and suggested limiting how much time staff members must spend with any commissioner on issues.
Hiller said Henning pointed out it would be unlawful to limit how much time commissioners spend with staff members.
“This appears to be an attack of Commissioner Hiller,” Henning said. “If we start addressing this by making laws, there will be ramifications.”
Commisioner Donna Fiala pointed out that Hiller, at times, has talked about something for 45 minutes and that’s too long for the audience. Fiala admonished her fellow board members that they need to treat each other with respect at all times, without sarcasm or accusations.
“We should never try to play gotcha,” she said. “What do you accomplish?”
The discussion returned to fine-tuning the system for when commissioners individually place items on the agenda that are important to them and providing as much back-up material as possible ahead of time for the other board colleagues.
Henning offered a motion that the county make changes to its procedures ordinance to stipulate that as much back-up material be included in commissioners’ items, along with an executive summary. The motion passed unanimously.
For a future time, Hiller said she wants to take a look at how consent items are put on the agenda because of concern that some items are put on consent to avoid discussion and that shouldn’t be the case. She also would like to see the agenda be ready earlier so the public has more time to review it and the issues. The agenda is published the Thursday before a Tuesday board meeting.