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There is a very short video clip showing a member of the public in the City of Seattle that went to address his city council. In Seattle there is a twenty-minute time weekly for comments from the public, and Richard Schwartz had an allotted two minutes  to make his prepared remarks.Regardless of what this individual has to say, it is his right to talk to City Council in that time slot.

But when Mr. Schwartz started his presentation and noticed that no one was paying attention to him, he did what anyone would do~he politely asked for the councillors to put their phones down and give him eye contact while he spoke.

That did not go well, with the chair reminding Mr. Schwartz he was on a two minute timer and “Let’s go”. When he asked for the timer to start again, he was told no. When Mr. Schwartz began to talk about the right to speak and democracy, you can hear an audible sigh from one of the councillors.  The camera work for the City of Seattle clearly shows the deportment of the councillors, with their phones on their keyboards, looking like those school kids just waiting for the buzzer to announce detention was over.

No matter what Mr. Schwartz was going to say, surely council could have given him eye contact and  listened to him for those two minutes. This member of the public said it best about his Seattle Council encounter: “My point was: You set aside 20 minutes out of the week supposedly for public comment, and I just don’t understand why during those 20 minutes you can’t detach from the other things you might be doing — and I understand they have a lot of things they’re doing — and just give citizens their attention for 20 minutes out of the week.”

You can take a look at Mr. Schwartz’s attempted two-minute talk  with Seattle Council in the YouTube video below.

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