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(1) These rules of conduct shall apply to the City Commission meetings and all public meetings held by boards, committees, and agencies of the city. Whenever the term COMMISSION is used herein, it shall also apply to the city's boards, committees and agencies. Whenever the term MAYOR is used herein, it shall also mean the presiding officer of the board, committee or agency.
(2) The City Commission recognizes the importance of protecting the right of all citizens to express opinions on the operation of city government and encourage citizen participation in the local government process. The Commission shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs or services of the Commission, or the acts or omissions of the Commission. Citizens' expressions that go beyond the role and authority of the Commission give no privilege or protection. When citizens appear before the Commission, the Commission shall recognize all rights granted citizens under the free speech amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Commission also recognizes the necessity for conducting orderly and efficient meetings in order to complete City business in a timely manner.
(B) General rules.
(1) Seating capacity. Due to the need to comply with seating capacity requirements of the fire code, there may be occasions when entrance by the public to the Commission Chambers or other meeting rooms shall be limited. In the event that all available seats in the Commission Chambers are filled, members of the public will be directed to areas designated by the city outside of the Chambers.
(2) Signs, placards, banners. For public safety purposes no signs or placards mounted on sticks, posts, poles or similar structures shall be allowed in Commission Chambers or meeting rooms. Other signs, placards or banners shall not disrupt meetings or interfere with the view of others in attendance at the meeting. Persons with objects and symbolic materials such as signs must remain seated when displaying them and must not raise the items above shoulder level, obstruct the view or passage of other attendees, or otherwise disturb the business of the meeting.
(3) Weapons. Members of the public attending Commission meetings shall be prohibited from bringing any weapons, or objects that may be used as weapons, excluding firearms which are subject to regulation under F.S. Chapter 790, into the Commission Chambers. Persons, bags, packages, purses, briefcases and parcels entering the Commission Chambers or other meeting rooms are subject to search.
(4) Disruptions. Persons in the audience will refrain from behavior which will disrupt the public meeting. This will include making loud noises, clapping, shouting, booing, hissing, talking in a private conversation or engaging in any other activity in a manner that disturbs, disrupts or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting.
(5) Unwelcome physical conduct. Persons in the audience will refrain from creating, provoking or participating in any type of disturbance involving unwelcome physical contact.
(6) Cell phones. Persons in the audience will refrain from using cellular phones and/or pagers while the meeting is in session.
(7) Appropriate attire. Appropriate attire, including shoes and shirts are required in the Commission Chambers and other meeting rooms at all times.
(8) Use of seats. Persons in the audience shall not place their feet on the seats in front of them.
(C) Addressing the City Commission. Members of the public may speak at public meetings at a time to be specified by the Mayor during discussion on any ordinance, resolution, motion, workshop item, discussion item, or during the period set aside for public discussion on the City Commission agenda commonly referred to as "audience to be heard," subject to the following:
(1) General requirements.
(a) Until recognized as a speaker by the Mayor, members of the public shall remain seated while the meeting is in session.
(b) Members of the public may speak only at times designated by the Mayor.
(c) Each person addressing the Commission shall proceed to the place assigned for speaking and give his or her name and address in an audible tone of voice for the record.
(d) The Mayor shall rule out of order any member of the public who shall speak without being recognized, or who shall not address the Commission from the podium or other established speaking area.
(e) Comments shall be directed to the Commission as a body and not to individual Commission members.
(f) Speakers will not bring to the podium any items other than a prepared written statement, reference materials, writing materials or objects that have been inspected by city staff or the assigned deputy.
(g) If an individual wishes to submit written information to the City Commission, he or she may give it to the City Clerk or other administrative staff at the meeting for display or distribution.
(2) Audience to be heard.
(a) Members of the public desiring to speak at a City Commission meeting during "audience to be heard" shall fill out and return to the City Clerk, in the City Commission Chambers, the appropriate form, which must include the information needed to determine the speaker’s priority as provided in subsection (C)(2)(b) below, prior to the call to order of the meeting.
(b) The City Clerk will call residents and taxpayers of the city to speak first. Others desiring to speak will thereafter be called to speak, except:
1. When the person is a user of the city’s water or sewer system and wishes to be heard on a matter related to the city’s water and/or sewer system;
2. When such person is a city employee; or
3. When such person is serving as an authorized representative for a person who would otherwise be permitted to be heard pursuant to the priority established in this subsection.
(c) Thirty minutes or such time needed to permit ten members of the public to speak, whichever is less, shall be set aside at the beginning of each City Commission meeting for the “audience to be heard” session. The “audience to be heard” session shall be continued at the end of the Commission meeting in the event that individuals wishing to speak are not reached during the first session.
(d) During “audience to be heard,” members of the public desiring to speak may speak on any city government related matter and shall limit their discussion to items not appearing on the agenda except for items not removed from the consent agenda.
(e) Each person addressing the Commission during “audience to be heard” shall limit his or her comments to three minutes.
(3) Decorum to be maintained.
(a) Order shall be maintained at each Commission meeting and the Mayor is hereby empowered to order from the room any citizen who refuses to comply with the rules and regulations outlined in this section.
(b) City Commission meetings shall be conducted in a courteous manner. Citizens and Commission members will be allowed to state their positions in an atmosphere free of slander and threats of violence. Sufficient warning may be given by the Mayor at any time during the remarks and, in the event that any individual shall violate the rules of conduct herein set forth, the Mayor may then cut off comment or debate. At the discretion of the Mayor, a time clock may be used to display the commencement of the time for speaking and a warning sound may be heard to indicate that the appropriate time has passed.
(c) It shall be unlawful for any individual to disturb or interrupt any meeting of the City Commission. Any individual who causes a disturbance of the meeting shall be warned by the Mayor or, alternatively, by a majority vote of the Commission that the conduct is interfering with or disturbing the order of the meeting and shall be given the opportunity to cease the conduct constituting an interruption or disturbance. If, after sufficient warning, the individual fails to cease the offending conduct and continues to interrupt or disturb the meeting, the individual shall be removed from the meeting by a deputy of the Broward County Sheriffs Office or his authorized agent in attendance at the meeting if so directed by the Mayor. Once removed, the individual shall be barred from further audience for the remainder of the meeting.
(d) The use of slanderous, obscene or profane language, personally abusive attacks upon any person, physical violence or the threat thereof, or other loud and boisterous behavior which disturbs or otherwise disrupts the orderly conduct of the meeting and a failure to comply with any lawful decision or order of the Mayor or of a majority of the Commission shall constitute a disturbance. Personally abusive attacks include insults, discourteous comments and defamatory statements.
(e) If the audience or a part thereof becomes unruly, the Mayor is empowered to either recess or adjourn the meeting.
(1) The Broward County Sheriff’s Office shall, upon request, designate a deputy to serve as Sergeant at Arms at Commission meetings. The designated deputy shall carry out the orders and instructions of the Mayor for the purpose of maintaining order and decorum of the meeting.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office shall take any and all appropriate steps within the parameters of the law to secure the Commission Chambers and provide adequate protection for the citizens and members of the City Commission.
(2) Any person violating the provisions set forth in this section may be arrested and shall be subject to the provisions of § 10.99 of the city’s Code of Ordinances.
(Ord. 91-15, passed 11-27-90; Am. Ord. 2002-70, passed 9-24-02; Am. Ord. 2008-09, passed 11-27-07; Am. Ord. 2010-37, passed 6-22-10; Am. Ord. 2012-03, passed 10-11-11; Am. Ord. 2014-18, passed 2-11-14; Am. Ord. 2019-67, passed 5-28-19)