Let my people speak, Isabelle

If you are a Historic City News subscriber or reader, there is a very strong chance that you want us to help you hold public figures accountable to the public; after all, that has been our mission statement for more than 20-years.

As an informed resident and engaged citizen, it is equally important that you not only know what is going on in those smoke-filled backrooms, but that you also have the opportunity to express your grievances in front of those who you have elected to govern you.

In a July 7th memorandum from city attorney Isabelle Lopez to the city manager, this woman, who has never been accused of going out of her way to consider what is best for the residents and taxpayers of the city (she’s not one, by the way), forwarded her latest effort to limit public comments during regular meetings of the City Commission, its boards, and committees utilizing Communication Media Technology.

The Lopez Resolution (2020-25) proposes to amend Exhibit “A” of Resolution 2020-13 which provided for certain City meetings to proceed utilizing Communication Media Technology procedures instead of in-person meetings during the Chinese virus pandemic (COVID-19).

With little time to waste, as seems to always be the case when anyone at City Hall wants to do something with the least amount of public scrutiny, Lopez asked John P Regan to schedule the Resolution to be heard tomorrow (Monday July 13, 2020), and copied City Clerk Darlene Galambos.


RESOLUTION NO. 2020-25

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA AMENDING RESOLUTION 2020-13, LIMITING PUBLIC COMMENT DURING REGULAR MEETINGS OF THE CITY COMMISSION AND ITS BOARDS AND COMMITTEES UTILIZING COMMUNICATION MEDIA TECHNOLOGY.

WHEREAS, the City Charter provides for regular meetings, as well as special or emergency meetings of the City Commission; and

WHEREAS Resolution 2019-21 was adopted by the City Commission on August 12, 2019 providing for rules, procedures and policies related to the conduct of the City Commission meetings; and

WHEREAS Resolution 2019-21, as amended by Resolution 2020-23, provided for emergency meetings to comply with the requirements of federal, state, and local law; and

WHEREAS Sec. 4.10 of the City Charter provides that the city manager shall take all reasonably necessary administrative action to preserve life, property, and the public welfare pursuant to a declared federal, state, or local state of emergency; and

WHEREAS on March 1, 2020, Governor DeSantis declared a Public Health Emergency as a result of COVID-19; and, on March 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 (EO 20-52), declaring a State of Emergency as a result of COVID-19 and has subsequently extended and modified the terms of the State of Emergency through successive Executive Orders; and

WHEREAS on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 to be a global pandemic; and, on March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency concerning COVID-19; and

WHEREAS in response to concerns raised by local government bodies, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-69 (EO 20-69), which suspended any Florida Statute that requires a quorum to be present in person or requires a local government body to meet at a specific public place, and has extended this order through successive Executive Orders; and

WHEREAS EO 20-69 allows a local government to utilize communications media technology as provided in Section 120.54(5)(b)2, Florida Statutes; and

WHEREAS the City Commission adopted Resolution 2020-13 providing for Communications Media Technology in Quasi-Judicial, Legislative, and Administrative hearing procedures; and

WHEREAS the City Commission finds that due to the extensive ability for members of the public to comment via telephone call, and to have their correspondence read verbatim during regular Communications Media Technology meetings, the duration of the meetings are extended beyond what is reasonable or necessary for the good order of the conduct of business; and

WHEREAS the City Commission further finds that, consistent with Section 286.0114, Florida Statutes, the public has a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before the City Commission, however, matters that are not propositions for which the public body will take official action on may be provided a more limited opportunity for general public comment.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA:

Section 1. The Communications Media Technology Quasi-Judicial, Legislative, and Administrative Hearing Procedures are hereby amended as follows:

Paragraph 12 is hereby amended as follows:

12. A) PROPOSITIONS REQUIRING A SEPARATE PUBLIC HEARING. The following procedural rules apply to items placed on the regular meeting agenda of the City Commission, or any of its boards and committees, that are propositions requiring official action and a separate hearing pursuant to state law:

(i) Public comment and participation will be conducted, and public commenters may be sworn, or may make unsworn comment consistent with Florida law. Members of the public physically present in chambers may make public comment consistent with adopted administrative rules.

(ii) Members of the public who wish to participate utilizing Communications Media Technology will be requested to dial in to the announced phone bank number only when prompted for the specific item next on the agenda. The callers will be placed on hold and queued for each agenda item public comment period.

(iii) In the alternative, members of the public may provide written comment to the City Clerk prior to the hearing, via drop box, U.S. Mail, or email. The City Clerk will read any received written comments into the record. All public comment will be limited to three (3) minutes. The City Clerk will receive and preserve all written comment consistent with Florida Public Records law but will only read into the record the equivalent of three (3) minutes or 400 words. These procedures will apply for Communications Media Technology public comment received by the designated staff member for the City’s other boards and committees.

12. B) PROPOSITIONS NOT REQUIRING A SEPARATE PUBLIC HEARING. The following procedural rules apply to items placed on the regular meeting agenda of the City Commission, or any of its boards and committees, that are propositions requiring official action, but not requiring a separate hearing pursuant to state law:

(i) Public comment and participation will be conducted, and public commenters may be sworn, or may make unsworn comment consistent with Florida law. Members of the public physically present in chambers may make public comment consistent with adopted administrative rules.

(ii) Members of the public who wish to participate utilizing Communications Media Technology may provide written comment to the City Clerk no later than two (2) business days prior to the meeting, via drop box, U.S. Mail, or email. The City Clerk will forward all written comment received by the deadline to each City Commissioner prior to the meeting. In addition, the City Clerk will tally the number of comments in support or in opposition to the proposition and read that tally, and a brief synopsis of each written comment received, into the record.  Written comments received after the deadline will be forwarded to each Commissioner as soon as reasonably possible. The City Clerk will receive and preserve all written comment consistent with Florida Public Records law. These procedures will apply for written public comment received by the designated staff member for the City’s other boards and committees.

C) GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT. The following procedural rules apply to general public comment regarding issues not on the agenda, or not requiring official action, of the City Commission, or any of its boards and committees:

(i) Public comment and participation will be conducted, and public commenters may be sworn, or may make unsworn comment consistent with Florida law. Members of the public physically present in chambers may make public comment consistent with adopted administrative rules.

(ii) Members of the public who wish to participate utilizing Communications Media Technology may provide written comment to the City Clerk no later than two (2) business days prior to the meeting, via drop box, U.S. Mail, or email. The City Clerk will forward all written comment received by the deadline to each City Commissioner prior to the meeting. If multiple comments received relate to a common identifiable issue, the City Clerk will tally the number of comments in support of, or in opposition to, the issue and read that tally into the record.  Written comments received after the deadline will be forwarded to each Commissioner as soon as reasonably possible. The City Clerk will receive and preserve all written comment consistent with Florida Public Records law. These procedures will apply for written public comment received by the designated staff member for the City’s other boards and committees.

(iii) General Public Comment period may be placed after quasi-judicial and business items on an agenda, with a motion to reorganize the agenda and approval of that Commission, Board, or Committee, as appropriate.

D) EMERGENCY MEETINGS. The Mayor, or Vice-Mayor in their absence, may limit public comment to less than three (3) minutes for Emergency Meetings.  The Mayor or Vice-Mayor may instruct the City Clerk to summarize any written public comment received, as well as, limit the time allotted for individual in-person or telephonic public speakers. The time constraints may be announced at the beginning of the emergency meeting, or prior to any specific proposition to be heard, and may vary depending on the circumstances of the Emergency Meeting. At a minimum, members of the public will be allowed to state whether they support or oppose any proposition to be voted on by the City Commission and be given the opportunity to briefly state the reasons why.

Section 2. All other terms of Resolution 2020-13 and Resolution 2020-23 shall apply to the extent they do not conflict or are not applicable.


If you are planning to attend, come early for best parking on Monday. The meeting will begin promptly at 5:00 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month. Meetings are held in The Alcazar Room at City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St Augustine, FL 32084.

NAMETITLEEMAILPHONE
Freeman, LeannaVice MayorEmail Leanna904-829-1960
Horvath, RoxanneSeat OneEmail Roxanne904-825-1266
Sikes-Kline, NancySeat FiveEmail Nancy904-806-6203
Upchurch, TracyMayorEmail Tracy904-825-1006
Valdes, JohnSeat FourEmail John904-824-6150