Panama City News Herald by John Henderson
December 28, 2017
The buildup of orneriness over ordinances that the Panama City Beach Council passed the past few years to “clean up” the beach — from declawing Spring Break to regulations on beach hole digging — that had sent meeting decorum out the window culminated in 2017 with new rules aimed at cleaning up the meetings themselves.
With council meetings regularly degenerating into debates back and forth between audience members and council members, and with audience members periodically calling out accusations or attempting to question council members while they discussed city business, the council turned to new policies limiting the final public commenting period at the end of meetings to people who are city residents, own a city business, or who are on the city’s utility system to speak. The first commenting period remained open to all, as long as it pertained to an item on the meeting agenda.
It brought to a head, and was designed to head off, conflicts between regular meeting attendees and some council members.