DeKalb Council Contemplates New Rules for Public Participation


Council will be discussing more specific rules for public participation (PDF pp. 31-33) than what’s on the books now.

It includes prohibitions whenever the chair of the meeting feels like it.

3. Public Comment Not Permitted: The City reserves the right to conduct public meetings at which public comment is not received, when the chair of the meeting determines that it is necessary to do so in order to provide for orderly and efficient governance. Notwithstanding the foregoing, unless the City is responding to an actual emergency or is otherwise permitted by law to act in such a fashion, as determined by the chair, the City shall not take final action on any item of public business when the sole discussion of such item has been at a meeting where public comment was not permitted.

Regular readers already know that a common interpretation of the new Open Meetings Act provision taking effect in January is this: if it’s a public meeting, the public gets to speak, period; and that a unit of local government may set rules for how public comment is conducted, but not whether it is.

Has the city attorney checked with the Attorney General about this? It doesn’t say in the memo.

I also wonder why the city is suddenly concerned with orderly and efficient meetings.

Ironically, the participation rules are described as promoting the goal to “ensure vigorous public involvement in the City’s legislative process” yet will be discussed Monday in the Committee of the Whole meeting, during which public comment has always been prohibited.