News Release

What is Acceptable Public Speech? Mayor’s Forum Seeks Answers

Watch Video of the Forum Below

June 4, 2013

(West Palm Beach, FL) – What should the rules be when a member of the public speaks at a government meeting?  Should there be any rules at all, or does a right to free speech trump any need to temper public comments?  Is a code of conduct that restricts one’s ability to speak directly to a public official during a meeting appropriate?

These questions, and a few recent encounters at City Commission meetings led West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio to assemble a group to attempt to seek some answers.

The first Mayor’s Forum on Public Comment was held at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  Eleven individuals from several sectors of the community were invited to tackle some of the issues that have surfaced over the last few months.

“The last several weeks have cast a bright spotlight on the issue of what is appropriate to say and what is not appropriate to say during government meetings,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “Striking that balance has always been a difficult question to answer, and I wanted members of our own city to weigh in on where they think that line should be drawn.”

Among the participants were members of the public who frequently comment during City Commission meetings, as well as representatives of key groups such as the Urban League, the Palm Beach County League of Cities, former elected officials, as well as other members of the West Palm Beach community.

Mayor Muoio decided not to participate in the debate, saying that she felt it would be a better discussion if she, as well as members of the Commission were not present.

The event was moderated by Palm Beach Atlantic University, and lasted approximately two hours.



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