City Council President Ken Sanchez and Vice-President Trudy E. Jones Announce Interim Rules Regarding Public Comment and Chamber Decorum
May 7, 2014
City Council Rules prohibit disruptions to Council proceedings, and municipal ordinances declare it to be a misdemeanor. Enforcement of the criminal ordinance is subject to the discretion of law enforcement, but the President of the Council has a duty to enforce the rules of the Council. The members of the Council take the people’s right to speak very seriously and firmly believe that everyone’s right to participate needs to be honored – but that can only happen if everyone works together and follows the rules.
In order to maintain order at Council meetings, the Council President is going to be enforcing some strict requirements aimed at ensuring that everyone has the right to be heard, that there are no disruptive distractions while a presenter is speaking, and that everyone in the chamber can see and follow along with the meeting. The Council has been flexible with its rules in the past, but events like Monday’s necessitate a change to this policy.
- There will be absolutely no signs, props, or any other media, other than that which can be displayed on the overhead during presentations, allowed in the Council Chambers. Members of the public will be asked to leave all such material (other than material that can be reasonably displayed on the overhead) on a table outside of the Council Chambers and may pick them up as they leave.
- Items displayed on the overhead projector must be removed from the projector at the end of that person’s public comment.
- Only the individual whom the Council President has called on to provide public comment may stand at the podium or in the area around or behind the podium during that public comment (with the exception of those who need a translator or those who need assistance or reasonable accommodations to provide public comment). Multiple persons will not be permitted to stand behind the presenter.
- The two minute time limit for public comment will be strictly enforced. Public comment must be directed to the Council through the President, not at staff or members of the audience.
- There will be no tolerance for disruptive public outbursts.
- The handicapped landing area to the right side of the dais must be kept clear at all times. Those desiring to record the meeting will be directed to the landing area on the left side of the dais.
- Notwithstanding any of these rules, the fire marshal will strictly enforce ingress and egress rules so as to ensure public safety.
The Council President will provide one warning to anyone who violates any of these rules. Upon the second violation, that individual will be asked to leave the Chambers and, if necessary, will be escorted out of the Chambers. If continued disruptions occur, the Council President may recess the meeting until order is restored, and, if necessary, may clear the Chambers of persons participating in the disturbance.