TC Palm by Rich Campbell
January 9, 2018
The Martin County Commission’s new policy governing public comment is a joke.
Even worse, it might violate Florida’s Sunshine Law and the public’s First Amendment rights.
Other than these concerns, it is outstanding policy.
Not since Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith — in a previous role as chair — banned applause by audience members has the commission strayed so far afield with respect to its handling of public comment.
Effective Nov. 28, those who speak during public comment must direct their remarks to the full board, not individual commissioners. Commission chairs encouraged this practice in the past. It now is official policy.
The policy change comes against the backdrop of criminal charges filed against commissioners Ed Fielding and Sarah Heard for their alleged mishandling of public records in the Lake Point case. In November, a grand jury indicted Fielding on two counts of failure of a public official to permit inspection and copying of a public record. Heard was charged at that time with a noncriminal infraction for failing to respond to a public-records request. [READ MORE]