Wednesday, September 30, 2015
PROPOSED "DECORUM" (SIC) RULES FOR CITY MEETINGS
It is an itty-bitty still de facto segregated City that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the "most lawless City in America -- in a mean-spirited City Hall where KKK speakers have intimidated GLBT people, where Mayors and Commissioners have insulted citizens, where arrest threats have been used against journalists environmentalists, historic preservationists, artists, musicians and others exercising their First Amendment rights, where Commissioners have insulted and name-called citizens, where two ex-Mayors behaved notoriously badly in public meetings and hearings, where one ex-Mayor and Commissioners threatened to make an Open Records litigant "pay the piper" for suing the City (which was obliged to pay his legal fees and expenses.
In this place, how screamingly retaliatory, off-the-wall and odd that our City of St. Augustine's estimable City Attorney ISABELLE CHRISTINE LOPEZ (ICL)(a/k/a "ICICLE") has proposed as a resolution (no public comment required) hierarchical, haughty, unfriendly unilateral "Rules of Decorum" (sic), which DO NOT apply to Commissioners or City staff (or herself).
Is that sick, or what?
What do you reckon?
Here's the draft:
RESOLUTION NO. 2015-__
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA PROVIDING FOR RULES OF DECORUM FOR MEETINGS AND HEARINGS OF THE CITY COMMISSION AND ITS APPOINTED BOARDS AND COMMITTEES.
WHEREAS, the City Commission wishes to provide uniform rules of decorum for the orderly operations of public meetings and public hearings scheduled before the City Commission and its appointed boards and committees, and;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Chapter 286.0114, Florida Statutes, members of the public are given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission, and;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Chapter 286.0114, Florida Statutes, the City Commission is empowered to provide rules, policies and procedures for public meetings consistent with Florida law, and;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Chapter 286.0114, Florida Statutes, emergency meetings, ministerial and ceremonial acts, litigation meetings and quasi-judicial hearings are exempt, and;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Chapter 286.0114, Florida Statutes, boards and commissions may maintain orderly conduct and proper decorum in a public meeting, and;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Chapter 871.01, Florida Statutes, and consistent with Weidner v. State, 380 So.2d 1286 (Fla. 1980), whoever willfully interrupts or disturbs a lawful assembly of people commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, and;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, THAT:
Section 1. Public Meetings. Unless otherwise required by law, only one public comment period will be provided during the decision making process for all agenda items that are informational or require administrative, executive or legislative action. Speaker cards may be provided, and should be completed and returned to the City Clerk prior to commencement of the meeting. Each speaker is limited to a three (3) minute speaking period. Time may not be reserved nor may a public speaker yield their time to another speaker. The chairperson may grant additional time to a speaker or add additional public comment periods for individual agenda items, at the chairperson’s discretion. The chairperson may also provide for representatives of groups or factions to address the commission, board or committee rather than all members of a group.
Section 2. Public Hearings. Items identified as requiring a public hearing will each have a public comment period. Speakers may be asked to state their name and address for the record in order to establish legal standing in some proceedings. Speakers may be asked to be sworn in prior to providing testimony at a quasi-judicial hearing. Each speaker is limited to a three (3) minute speaking period. Time may not be reserved nor may a public speaker yield their time to another speaker. As a courtesy, the chairperson may grant a brief period of additional time to a speaker in order to allow the speaker to conclude his or her comment.
Section 3. Notice: Disruptive Behavior. Any person violating the rules of decorum as described in this section or displaying disruptive behavior, such as, shouting, noisemaking, issuing threats, harassing or intimidating members of the public, interfering with the duties of elected or appointed officials and City staff during a public meeting, or otherwise interrupting the proceedings may be removed from the public assembly pursuant to law. Each speaker must comply with the following rules of decorum when addressing the commission, board or committee:
(a) The speaker may not address the commission, board or committee from the audience.
(b) The speaker may only approach the podium to speak when recognized by the chairperson.
(c) The speaker may not approach the dais without the chairperson’s permission.
(d) The speaker must direct questions and comments at the commission, board or committee, through the chairperson.
(e) The speaker may not address the commission, board or committee using vulgar language.
(f) The speaker may not utilize public comment to make personal attacks.
(g) The speaker at a public hearing must limit his or her comments to the subject of the hearing.
A speaker willfully violating these rules of decorum may be gaveled out of order and removed for disrupting a public assembly pursuant to Chapter 871.01, Florida Statutes.
PASSED IN REGULAR SESSION of the City Commission of the City of St. Augustine, Florida, this ___ day of ___________, 2015.
Nancy Shaver, Mayor-Commissioner
Alison Ratkovic, City Clerk