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      Residents speak to Quincy City Council

      It turned out to be a packed house Monday night at Quincy's City Council meeting.

      Dozens of people, including many city employees, turned out at council chambers for a busy agenda.

      The council heard the first reading of two ordinances drafted by 5th Ward Alderman Jennifer Lepper.

      One would amend the 2009-2010 budget to freeze the salaries of all department heads, while the other would freeze the salaries of non-union employees.

      You'll recall the council passed the budget two weeks ago for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which included raises for those employees.

      KHQA's Rajah Maples spoke with Lepper Monday evening about why she drafted the ordinances.

      Lepper said, "W e're going into union contracts in a few months. We need to look at how we can scale down. How can we tell them that they need to cut their contracts when we're not willing to cut the department heads' and non-union salaries?"

      Steve McQueen had his chance to speak to the council Monday evening about his concerns over those raises and hikes in water and sewer rates.

      You'll recall at the May 4 meeting, 13 council members in attendance split along party lines and voted to deny him the opportunity to address the council.

      McQueen wanted to address his concerns about the $31.2 million dollar budget.

      Second Ward Alderman Steve Duesterhaus said McQueen had ample opportunity to speak up before the council approved the budget.

      But McQueen told us his job kept him from attending those meetings.

      Duesterhaus had another meeting to attend following Monday night's city council meeting, so he declined an on-camera interview.

      But some people are still fuming about last week.

      Also at Monday night's meeting, Quincy resident Michael Black filed a petition to amend the city code and allow a "citizens forum" during weekly council meetings.

      It was sent to legal counsel.

      William Hrudicka addressed the council about the importance of letting residents speak at council meetings, as long as they follow proper procedure.

      He told the council he's asked the American Civil Liberties Union to look into the matter.

      Hrudicka said "I think every resident should have a right to speak regardless of what the topic is ,whether it's the council's benefit or not. This is the right of the U.S. citizens who vote these people in."

      KHQA spoke with Mayor John Spring about the matter shortly after Monday night's meeting and ask, "What would you say to the people on blogs in Chicago and web sites across the country that are saying, 'freedom of speech denied in Quincy?'"

      Mayor John Spring said, "I don't think they understand the whole story, because they don't have all the facts, because they weren't given all the facts."

      We did some checking to find out if residents have ever been denied a request to speak at Quincy City Council meetings.

      KHQA found there have been at least six cases.

      Two of them happened during former Mayor Dave Nuessen's term in 1977 and 1979. The other four happened during former Mayor Verne Hagstrom's term in 1985 and 1992.

      *Minutes from past council meetings where residents were denied to speak: http://www.connecttristates.com/news/pdf1.pdf http://www.connecttristates.com/news/pdf2.pdf http://www.connecttristates.com/news/pdf3.pdf http://www.connecttristates.com/news/pdf4.pdf http://www.connecttristates.com/news/pdf5.pdf

      http://www.connecttristates.com/news/pdf6.pdf

      *Meeting minutes from PDFs 1, 2, & 5 suggest pending legal suits as a reason/basis for speaker denial. ***************************************************************

      Posted 5/11/09 at 5:30 p.m.

      It could be a heated Quincy City Council meeting Monday night.

      Some people were fuming after last week's meeting because the 13 council members in attendance split along party lines and voted to deny a Quincy resident the opportunity to address the council.

      Steve McQueen told KHQA last week he was shocked by that vote.

      McQueen wanted to speak against the city's $31.2 million dollar budget, which was approved the previous week.

      Second Ward Alderman Steve Duesterhaus said McQueen had ample opportunity to speak up before the council approved the budget.

      McQueen told us his job kept him from attending those meetings.

      Now McQueen has filed a request to speak again Monday night.

      Another Quincy man, Michael Black, has filed a petition to amend the city code and allow a "citizens forum" during weekly council meetings.

      We wondered if McQueen was the first Quincy citizen denied the chance to address the council, even after following proper procedure.

      For this KHQA FactFinder report, we found out there have been at least six cases.

      Two of them happened during former Mayor Dave Nuessen's term in 1977 and 1979. The other four happened during former Mayor Verne Hagstrom's term in 1985 and 1992.

      As far as other business, council members are expected to hear the first reading of an ordinance that would freeze the salaries of all department heads and non-union employees, instead of giving them the raises approved in the budget a few weeks ago.

      KHQA's Rajah Maples will be there and will show you what happens on KHQA's Late News, and later on www.connecttristates.com.

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