The Board of Aldermen last week passed new rules for the public participation period, in an effort to allow the body to have guidelines for public speakers.
The new rules were offered by Alderman Charles DiPerri, who said that he decided to offer guidance on public participation to aid the President of the Board in mediating public discourse in the chamber. DiPerri said that the new rules are not an attempt to silence or censor members of the public, but to encourage respectful, constructive public participation.
Among the new rules that will be enforced for public participation at Aldermen’s meetings: 1) public participation has been moved to the end of the meeting; 2) residents who would like to address the Board will have to sign in at the beginning of the meeting and list the topic they wish to discuss; 3) a two minute maximum speaking time will be enforced when there are several speakers; 4) speakers cannot use the period to endorse or oppose political candidates or for other political purposes; 5) all comments are to be addressed to the president of the board; and 6) speakers cannot use the period for commercial or personal gain.
There was little discussion about the new rules, but a few minor amendments were made to clarify the intent of the rules.
The new rules on public participation are expected to go into effect at the next meeting of the Board of Aldermen in January 2013.