YAKETY-YAK ... Palo Alto City Council Chambers were deserted Tuesday night by the time the council got to its last agenda item ' long-winded members. The nine readily agreed to spend "about an hour" at their upcoming Feb. 2 retreat discussing voluntary ' or perhaps mandatory ' provisions to limit council members' questions and comments during meetings. Worried that lengthy meetings are "undermining public confidence" in the political process, Mayor Greg Scharff and council members Larry Klein and Gail Price have suggested that mandatory time limits be considered if council members cannot voluntarily refrain from making voluminous comments. The average length of council meetings ' held almost weekly ' crept up from about four-and-a-half hours in 2008 through 2011 to five hours in 2012. "We risk undermining public confidence in our processes if we can't this problem under control," Scharff, Klein and Price said in a memo to colleagues.
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