Oct 5, 2022 - News

Detroit City Council expected to move back to larger auditorium

People are seated in a large auditorium.

City hall's auditorium. Photo courtesy of city of Detroit, via Flickr

City Council is expected to return to its bigger auditorium around mid-November.

Why it matters: City hall's Henderson Auditorium was able to fit long lines of residents during controversial formal sessions in the past. But the chamber Council is using for its hybrid virtual/in-person meetings now reaches capacity way too quickly, leaving dozens of residents in the lobby when there's a topic drawing substantial public comment.

  • That includes the Sept. 27 meeting where lawmakers again delayed voting on controversial gunshot surveillance tool ShotSpotter.
  • The vote was delayed yet again yesterday until at least next Tuesday.

Driving the news: After pushback and media coverage, city program management officer Amy Sovereign updated the body yesterday on progress getting technology ready for the move.

  • The auditorium's audio-visual system needed updating, Sovereign said. But supply chain challenges made it hard to get equipment.
  • It should be installed the first week in November. Then if testing checks out, the auditorium can likely host large meetings starting the third week of the month.

What they're saying: It's frustrating that an elected body is making it hard for the public to follow and participate, Yvonne Navarrete, policy director for We the People Michigan, was quoted by Outlier Media as saying during a recent meeting.

  • Council President Sheffield said yesterday that "it is extremely important everyone has access … to council sessions, so it is nothing that is intentional, for the reason why we're not in the auditorium."

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