Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Council Procedures Violate New State Law?

City Council will consider Monday new Council Policies and Procedures which will eliminate the Monday Committee meetings in favor of "agenda conference" meetings.

Hidden in the new policy is a statement that reads:

"Public input shall not be invited or routinely accepted during an Agenda Conference."

Once again the Council tries to limit Citizens input on issues. 

Fortunately for Citizens, the Legislature passed the Anti-Shushing Bill this year which states:

(2) Members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission. The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the same meeting at which the board or commission takes official action on the proposition if the opportunity occurs at a meeting that is during the decision making process and is within reasonable proximity in time before the meeting at which the board or commission takes the official action.

Council needs to allow Citizens to have input at every meeting in which they sit together and quit trying to limit Citizens rights.


Anonymous said...

Does the City have a competent attorney? Why didn't he catch this obvious violation of state law??

Anonymous said...

There are several other aspects of the proposed rules and procedures that run counter to the best interests of the Pensacola citizens .

1. Section 1.08 "A speaker's time may not be given to another."
There have been numerous occasions when a speaker has yielded his/her time to another member of the public. This often allows a more articulate presentation and empowers a citizen who may be reluctant to speak in public to have representation.

2. Section 1.08 "In the interest of time and orderly deliberation, unless prohibited by law, the Council reserves the right to deny public input on any item at any time except a public hearing required by law." What is implied in the words "unless prohibited by law"?
Does the author think a Council action of prohibiting the public's right to address its grievances on some agenda items might actually be discriminatory and thus illegal? If so, why not strike this whole thing? Does the Council really think that reducing the time spent at a council meeting is worth eliminating the public's right to speak? Under this provision, would Council have eliminated all the bus riders who came out to speak in favor of the 4-cent gas tax proposal? Or block the ministers, homeless and other citizens who came out to oppose the anti-homeless ordinances on your agenda? Would Council have wanted to prevent the families (bringing in kids with balloons, etc.) from not speaking in support of the YMCA proposal? Or stop the angry residents on Government Street who did not want their street reopened? Who is it that Council wants to silence with this procedure?

3. Under the new rules to be voted on at the next City Council COW, President Wu can stop any speaker he believes is not sticking to the agenda item. This can lead to a very narrow interpretation (which we've witnessed in the past) and to the inability to place the agenda item in a larger context.

Let's hope Council will not swallow these anti-democratic changes hook, line and sinker!