Panama City News Herald Editorial
June 6, 2017
Panama City Beach City Council members have a chance Thursday to squelch a fire before there’s a spark, instead of attempting to throw the Gulf of Mexico at a small flame.
Before council members Thursday is proposed Resolution 17-99, which purports to establish “RULES OF PROCEDURE TO PROVIDE FOR THE ORDERLY CONDUCT OF CITY MEETINGS.” The means laid out in the resolution to get to that end, however, range from subjective and burdensome for residents to unnecessary and giving the appearance of further hindering people’s ability to participate in city business.
Based on the council’s contentious meetings of late, the prevailing wisdom from some outside the city who have seen the resolution is that it was brought to the forefront by some city officials’ ire with Burnie Thompson, a regular at the meetings who has been broadcasting them live via his Facebook page, engaging council members in debate, and at times exchanging barbs and personal jabs with commissioners during his three minutes at the podium.
No matter the reasoning, the resolution, in its totality, overreaches and Beach residents should be concerned.
Among the proposals:
• Workshops, traditionally semi-formal in the sense that votes could not be taken and no official action could be approved without a formal, and legally noticed, meeting, would become “noticed as Special Meetings and official action may be taken upon any of the items discussed at the workshop meeting … .” That means residents who attend council meetings to keep track of what’s happening and have a voice would have to find time in their schedules — most likely during their own work hours — to attend workshops as well.
• Members of the public can still speak, but, “The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the same meeting at which official action is taken” if the person already has spoken on the issue at a meeting “within reasonable proximity in time” of the meeting at which the vote is being taken. In other words, if they didn’t like what you had to say last time, they don’t have to listen again. [READ MORE]