Commissioners determine their meeting is limited public forum

If you are planning to speak during tonight’s City Commission meeting in St Augustine, Historic City News wants you to beware of the limits that will be imposed on what you can say, how you can say it, and who you can say it to.

In accordance with Resolution 2015-36, citizens are notified by the members of the St Augustine City Commission regarding “Disruptive Behavior” during public meetings.

The speaker may present their viewpoint in this limited public forum without using terminology or gestures that cause a disruptive environment for public officials in the discharge of their duties or cause a disruptive environment hostile to the participation of other members of the public.

Any person violating the rules of decorum as described in this section or otherwise displaying disruptive behavior, such as but not limited to, shouting, noisemaking, issuing threats, harassing or intimidating members of the public, interfering with the duties of elected or appointed officials and City staff during a public meeting, or otherwise interrupting or disrupting the proceedings may be removed from the public assembly pursuant to law.

Each speaker must comply with the following rules of decorum when addressing the commission, board or committee:

  • The speaker may not address the commission, board or committee from the audience.
  • The speaker may only approach the podium to speak when recognized by the chairperson.
  • The speaker may not approach the dais without the chairperson’s permission.
  • The speaker must direct questions and comments at the commission, board or committee, through the chairperson.
  • The speaker must observe the time limits set for public comment.
  • The speaker at a public hearing must limit his or her comments to the subject of the hearing.
  • The speaker must avoid making irrelevant, repetitive, personal, impertinent or slanderous comments.

A speaker violating these rules of decorum or otherwise disrupting a meeting may be gaveled out of order by the chairperson, and if the speaker willfully refuses to abide by the lawful order of the chairperson to cede the floor and cease and desist all disruptive behavior, the speaker may be removed for disrupting a public assembly pursuant to Chapter 871.01, Florida Statutes.