County Commissioners to Consider Real-Time Public Comments for Virtual Meetings

County Commissioners to Consider Real-Time Public Comments for Virtual Meetings

This week, the County Commissioners will review a status update on virtual commission meetings and consider allowing real-time citizen participation via Zoom at upcoming meetings.

The County Commission meetings have been held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions since March, when Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 20-69, which suspended the Florida Statute that requires a physical quorum for local government meetings.

DeSantis also issued Executive Order No. 20-179, which allows local government bodies to hold virtual millage and budget hearings but does not remove the public participation requirement for these hearings.

Back in April, when the County Commissioners temporarily modified Policy No. 01-05 to allow the use of Communications Media Technology for virtual meetings, they also created an online form for citizens to make written public comments before meetings.

In addition to the written comments, the County plans to use Zoom to allow citizens to call into the hearings on Sept. 15 and Sept. 29.

The commissioners reviewed this option at their last meeting in another status report. The report outlined potential challenges related to public participation via Zoom.

“These included challenges related to possible poor connectivity, which may disrupt a citizen’s video and/or audio feed, citizens’ familiarity with the Zoom platform and how to virtually ‘raise their hand’ to be recognized by the chairman, timing issues relating to queuing citizens to speak, and ensuring appropriate conduct by citizens during the broadcast,” staff reports.

According to the meeting agenda, Leon County has adapted citizen participation procedures used by Alachua County and Sarasota County for the upcoming hearings.

“While these advancements will help to mitigate some of the noted challenges, others remain outside of the County’s control, including citizens’ poor phone connections and possible inappropriate comments during broadcasts,” staff reports.

According to the meeting agenda, the Board may choose to accept both written comments and real-time participation for all future virtual meetings.

If the commissioners vote to implement real-time citizen participation for all agenda items, it will take effect at the next meeting on Sept. 29.

6 Responses to "County Commissioners to Consider Real-Time Public Comments for Virtual Meetings"

  1. Bring back LIVE Meetings in PERSON as it was BEFORE March. Everyone can wear a Mask. PLUS, get back to work with a minimum of TWO Meets a month PLUS the Work Shops.

  2. Public comment isn’t a gift our rulers get to bless us with. It’s our right. The County Administrator and City Manager are to blame for denying the constitutional rights of the people. This should not need to be brought for a vote. Every other county in Florida has been allowing public comment since the beginning of the pandemic and their administrators didn’t need to put it for a vote by the elected body.

    What are they afraid of?

    1. It shows the lack of leadership under both entities and explains a lot. Thank you for shining a light on the two people most accountable.

  3. Lexie,

    Please investigate and report why the City Commission voted unanimously with Curtis Richardson hiding behind conflict of interest approved a marijuana medical dispensary to be located near a school when there is a law that states it is illegal.

    What was the conflict of interest that Curtis Richardson had?

    Why didn’t Curtis Richardson Advocate that it is illegal to put a dispensary near the school? If anyone should be advocating for our school children it is Curtis Richardson because he was on the school board at one time.

    Who are the developers and who are the agents on record for the Developers? Gary Yordon?

    Who oversees the school who is the principal of the school?

    The city planner recommended this not be approved so why did the mayor and three Commissioners go against this advice with Curtis Richardson slithering out of the room due to a conflict of interest?

    We have five officials who are supposed to keep the best interest of our children in mind and they have forsaken them.

    This should be one of the top issues on the front page of every news source in this area if not beyond.

    Please investigate this and report!

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