Panama City News Herald by John Henderson
June 8, 2017
The City Council on Thursday night approved new “rules of procedure” dictating public comment and recording policies at its meetings.
The new rules, modeled after Bay County’s, were criticized by residents, saying it was chilling free speech.
The vote in favor of the new policies was 3-2, with council members Phil Chester and Josie Strange dissenting.
Per the proposal, any person who becomes unruly can be removed from the meeting by a police officer at the discretion of the council’s chairperson. It defines unruly as someone who “disrupts or interrupts a public meeting by the use of profane language, threat of violence or intimation or makes slanderous, personal, or impertinent remarks, or exhibits loud, boisterous, hostile, or threatening behavior.” Anyone who disrupts or interrupts a public meeting on more than one occasion could be required by a majority vote of the council to submit their input, remarks or comments in writing.
Myers urged members to take out the phrase “impertinent remarks” as it is “a very broad category.”
Councilman Hector Solis’ motion that was approved was to remove “slanderous” and “personal” language but not the word “impertinent.” Solis said the meetings are to discuss city issues, “not time for personal attacks.” [READ MORE]