City Attorney, Erwin Jackson Set to Discuss Public Speaking Controversy

City Attorney, Erwin Jackson Set to Discuss Public Speaking Controversy

Tallahassee Reports has learned that the City Attorney’s office is scheduled to meet with Dr. Erwin Jackson about citizens being denied the right to speak at recent city commission meetings.

Dr. Jackson has made it clear to city officials that he intends to file a lawsuit under the Florida Sunshine Law if his concerns are not addressed.

At the end of the last city commission meeting, Dr. Jackson signed-up to speak on the controversial issue involving the city attorney vacancy. Due to the number of speakers, the city commission cut off public discussion after approximately 30 minutes and told those that did not get to speak that they could speak during the unagendaed speakers section of the meeting.

However, when Dr. Jackson rose to speak, during unagendaed speakers, the city commission refused to allow him to speak on the issue.

Dr. Jackson spent his three minutes arguing with officials about the violations of policy and then was told to sit down.

After Jackson’s time expired, City Commissioner Scott Maddox asked the city attorney to verify that the city’s process is consistent with state law.

See Dr. Jackson interact with city officials below:

This is the second time in a month that Dr. Jackson and other citizens have been denied the right to speak on an issue before the city commission.

Previously, Jackson tried to speak on the resignation of former City Manager Rick Fernandez.

Prior to that meeting, Dr. Jackson contacted Deputy City Manager Reese Goad and informed Mr. Goad that at least twenty citizens intended to speak at the meeting on the resignation of City Manager Rick Fernandez.

Due to the limitations of the  City’s thirty minute rule, according to Dr. Jackson, he and Mr. Goad discussed an alternative. To avoid disrupting the flow of the meeting, Mr. Goad told Dr. Jackson that the City would allow public comment on the issue prior to the scheduled public hearing that was to follow the city commission meeting.

Dr. Jackson agreed so long as the city commission did not vote on the Fernandez matter before all the citizens were given the opportunity to speak. Jackson says that Mr. Goad assured him that would not happen.

Dr. Jackson reminded the city commission that several people were waiting to speak on the Fernandez issue and that the city commission should not vote on it until hearing from the concerned citizens.

However, the city commission – led by Mayor Gillum – voted on the matter anyway, without hearing the views of a number of citizens.

Since that meeting, Dr. Jackson has had his attorney send a letter to City Attorney Shelley highlighting state law and city policy on citizens speaking before governmental bodies.

Florida Statute section 286.0114(2) states “members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission.”

Similarly, City Policy 108.04 states that it is “the City Commission’s policy to provide meaningful opportunities for members of the public to participate in City meetings. Citizen participation in the program and policy development of the City of Tallahassee is recognized as an important element in providing quality public services to the Tallahassee community.

Also, City Policy 108.06 states that public comment on an agenda item “be provided at some time during the decision-making process prior to the point at which the Commission . . . takes official action.”

To ensure this type of situation will not happen again, Dr. Jackson is seeking a written statement from the City of Tallahassee to be read at a city commission meeting.

Jackson is asking that the statement include an admission that the Tallahassee City Commission erred, assures citizens that the Tallahassee City Commission will follow the requirements of the Florida Sunshine Law and City Commission policies, and apologize to the members of the public who were not given the opportunity to speak at previous meetings.

Tallahassee Reports will have an update after Tuesday’s meeting.

11 Responses to "City Attorney, Erwin Jackson Set to Discuss Public Speaking Controversy"

  1. Has the meeting already occurred, or is it still scheduled? Doesn’t such a meeting fall under the Sunshine Law and require public access? Will the meeting be open to the public?

  2. My man DavidB,
    Be of stout heart and good spirit. Dr. JACKSON and the FBI investigation are the brightest lights of hope to clean the mess our “usual suspects” have made.
    Sure we all kind of feel like abused pets at the dog pound because of what our dirty “usual suspects” have done to us.
    We can not bring back the 1960’s or 1970’s but we have a good shot at cleaning house down at City Hall !!!

  3. The meeting was conducted in a very unprofessional manner and the city commission disenfranchised citizens regarding their right to speak, to where the vote they took regarding the interim attorney, may be illegal and possibly should be rescinded.

    When Curtis Richardson took over it was so inappropriate I could not believe what I was seeing! Curtis was – acting the fool – and bullying Mr. Jackson…hardly a way to conduct a public meeting. Curtis has not shown leadership or wisdom during his tenure and he has had numerous opportunities.

    It is perfectly within the common sense realm to question the city attorney interim position. Will this attorney be caught up in the investigation thereby taking away energy from the job at hand? Did the interim attorney, Ms. Jackson, go along with inappropriate decisions and actions? Did she question the Ziffer sidewalk payout or was she part of this scam?

    The leaders who spoke for Ms. Jackson should be asking these questions as it is relevant to the integrity to serve ALL the people! Perhaps, these leaders should practice Martin Luther King’s message:

    “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

    The reporters who report on city and county meetings should report when commissioners leave the dais before a vote at every meeting.

    The city commission and especially Curtis Richardson owe Mr. Erwin Jackson an apology.

  4. David B.: Your observations are dead on. Moved to Tall. 50 + years ago when it was a wonderful small town full of decent folks that had common sense to grow a fine community where raising a family was a pleasure…..then the liberal progressives moved in and changed all that with more taxes,feel good give away projects, walking trails , bike trails, greenways, multiple parks (even when and where we do not need them ) , eliminated widening arterial connectors in favor of more bike lanes and trails, created development opportunities requiring taxpayer funding with city/private financing, and generally created a city atmosphere dominated by a traffic choked street system and questionable leadership. (they even took a 4 lane arterial connector and made a 2 lane street out of it with loads of high maintenance landscaping to please the snowflakes/moonbeams….Gaines Street). It is indeed a sad situation, getting worse by the day .

  5. Can’t wait to see if Joe West who is a candidate for the commission would work for free for the people or as Erwin Jackson stated $5,000. per year is plenty!

  6. It takes money & advertising to oust these corrupt city commission members. Noone has the money, and with local media (save Tallahassee Reports) in beds with unethical leaders, well, we are only going to get the same old, same old. I hate to say it, but the small number of readers of TR (compared to the population of Tallahassee) are not going to be enough to make real change.

    I’ve said it before. Tallahassee is not a great place to live and raise your children. People here are becoming more hateful and angry all the time. I’m sick of the flying middle finger in this town, the terrible service in stores and restaurants, and the overall hateful attitude the permeates the air here. Tallahassee just lost another huge greenspace. It’s slipping away.

    No, I can’t “just move”. Too many things anchor me to this place. Few more years, yes, I’ll be gone, but in the mean time I’m stuck in this cesspool.

  7. Doing the math, if they allow 30 minutes and 3 minutes per person, that is 10 speakers max. Simply illegal. This is why citizen’s don’t show up; nor offer to speak, aside from shear disgust.

    This is just another demonstration of known violations of State Law and the COT presented ‘Policy’ – policies which are all a joke. Like the Commission, Legal, Ethics, Human Resources, Finance, etc……FBI would you add this to your list, too? Malfeasance pure and simple.

    Succinct – presentation by Jackson while being interrupted. Shortest Jury trial in history….

  8. Next time they want to name something after Allan Katz, someone should instead recommend naming the city commission chamber “The Dr. Erwin Jackson Room.”

  9. The arrogance and illegal activities of our city commissioners must stop now! It’s residents need to show up and demand your voice be heard. Tell Commissioners their30 minute limit is illegal!

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