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Council votes to limit public comments at meetings

MERIDIAN — The Meridian City Council is tired of local residents using the public comment period to talk about anything they want.

The Meridian Star reports the council voted 3-2 this week restrict public comments to items on its agenda.

George Pugh, a Meridian native who currently resides in Marion, said unless there’s been “some sort of ruckus” in the past when someone expressed their point of view at council meetings, he did not see any reason to make a change.

Council president George Thomas said the change is needed.

“The concern is that we have some people who appear to think that they can come speak on any issue regardless of how it affects the business operation of the city of Meridian,” Thomas said. “This meeting is a business meeting; it is not a public forum for people to come and speak.”

Thomas said an agenda-setting meeting is held the week before the business meeting, and any citizen may attend and add to the agenda any item that pertains to the operation of the city.

“We have work sessions where persons can come to speak. We have a clerk who has the phone numbers of all the council members and can set up appointments if they want to speak with the council members,” he said.

Thomas said the council is not trying to cut off contact with the public, but maintain the demeanor of the city council meeting.

“Which is a business meeting where we’re supposed to conduct the business of the city,” he said.

Because the ordinance did not pass unanimously, it will not take effect until after 30 days.

“We’ll have the citizens’ comments for the next 30 days. After that, if they want to speak at council meetings, it will have to relate to something that’s on the agenda,” Thomas said. “If there’s something that needs to be on the agenda, something that we need to act on, they can request to be on the routine agenda at the work session.”

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