Select Board’s Policy on Public Comment at Weekly Select Board’s Meetings
Meetings of the Select Board are conducted in accordance with the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30, s. 18. The Select Board believes that the public should have an opportunity to comment on issues that affect the Town and are within the scope of the Board’s responsibilities. Therefore the Select Board shall set aside a period of time at each Select Board’s meeting to hear from the public which shall be referred to as Public Comment.
Public Comment is not intended to be a discussion, debate, or dialogue between or among citizens and the Select Board. Rather, it is intended to offer citizens an opportunity to express their opinion on issues of Select Board business. While the Board and/or administrators will not typically respond to citizen comments or questions posed at Public Comment, the Chair, as presiding officer of the meeting, may answer or request an answer to a question if they deem it appropriate. Further, should the Chair believe that an issue or question falls outside the purview of the Select Board they may request that citizens direct it to the appropriate person or body so that the matter is given proper consideration.
The following process will govern Public Comment at the Board of Select Board meetings.
The Select Board will schedule a 15-minute Public Comment period within the beginning portion of each Select Board meeting according to the following guidelines:
1. Speakers may sign up by contacting the Select Board’s office no earlier than the Friday preceding the meeting. A sign-up sheet will also be available as people enter the meeting. People will speak in the order in which they sign up, unless more than one person wishes to speak on a single topic, in which case the Chair may call on them together.
2. Any person wishing to speak must identify themselves and the specific topic for wishing to speak. The Chair will favor, in no particular order, those speakers who are Brookline residents.
3. There will be a time limit of up to 5 minutes per person, which will be enforced by the Chair of the meeting. If the number of people wishing to speak exceeds 3, the Chair may, at their discretion, limit individual comments to no more than 3 minutes per person.
4. If the Select Board believes that an issue requires more time, they may schedule an extension of the 15-minute Public Comment period after all other scheduled business of the Board concludes. In addition, the Board may schedule a separate public hearing on that issue.
5. Discussion of individual personnel issues will be prohibited.
6. Individual participation in Public Comment shall be limited to once every four meetings on a different topic, unless otherwise allowed by the Chair.
7. Votes by the Select Board will not be taken during Public Comment.
8. Responses to concerns will be made only by the Chair of the meeting, or other members, at the Chair’s discretion.
9. On those issues that can be resolved by directing citizens to the appropriate staff, the Chair will advise the citizen of appropriate steps to take.
10. The Chair of the meeting may terminate any individual’s privilege of address for inappropriate conduct or statement.
Adopted by vote of the Select Board on February 2, 2016
The Select Board have authorized the use of remote participation subject to certain conditions and restrictions.
Please read the board’s vote and policy dated January 15, 2013 (below) and the related regulations promulgated by the Attorney General, 940 CMR 29.10. If you have any questions please contact Town Counsel at 617-730-2190 or by email.
January 15, 2013
To allow remote participation for meetings of Town Boards, Committees, and Commissions, including the School Committee and public bodies organized by the schools in accordance with the requirements of the applicable regulations, 940 CMR 29.10 subject to the following:
Pursuant to this board’s authority under 940 CMR 29.10 (8) the board adopts the following policy conditioning and limiting the use of remote participation:
- Prior to using remote participation, the Chair and any subsequent Chair as well as any staff person assigned to such Board, Committee, or Commission shall be trained by Town Counsel or her designee to review the requirements of the regulations with respect to remote participation; and
- Remote participation shall only be allowed in public buildings and public schools in rooms with town issued phones so as to ensure the member participating remotely is audible to all persons present at the meeting.
- At this time, Internet, satellite video, or so-called face-time conferencing is not permitted without the express written permission of Town Counsel and the Chief Information Officer.
- The Chair or staff person shall provide the Information Services Department with a reasonable amount of time to ensure there is a functioning phone with speaker phone capability in the particular room where the meeting will be held. A reasonable amount of time shall be no less 3 hours during regular business hours prior to the start of the meeting.
- This vote and policy applies to all town and school public bodies that are subject to the Open Meeting Law.