Procedures for Speaking Rules of Decorum Sign Up to Speak to Council
On January 7, 2020 the Raleigh City Council modified the process by which members of the public may speak to the City Council. The modified process became effective with the February 4, 2020 City Council meeting.
The sign-up period for public comment will commence at the conclusion of the immediately preceding Council meeting and conclude one hour prior to the start of the next scheduled regular Council meeting. Persons wishing to make public comment can add their names until noon of the meeting day or until 6 p.m. during meetings when Public Comments are heard during the evening session.
Procedures for Speaking
Procedures for Speaking During “Public Comment” at City Council Meetings
North Carolina law requires that all municipal governing boards provide at least one public comment period a month during a regular meeting. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-81.1. The Raleigh City Council has chosen to provide this opportunity at each bi-monthly Council meeting during the “Public Comment” portion of the Agenda.
Persons wishing to provide public comment shall follow the following procedure:
- Speakers can sign up by clicking on the “Public Comment” link on the City Clerk’s page on the City’s web portal. Alternatively, the speaker can contact the City Clerk’s Office at 919-996-3040 to add their name to the list of speakers, or to request further assistance.
- In order to be added to the list of speakers, an individual must provide their name, physical address, telephone number, and email address. The speaker will also be asked to acknowledge the Rules of Decorum. The speaker may, but is not required, to provide additional information about the topic to be discussed. This is to allow City Staff to research the issue and potentially provide a resolution and/or more information by the time of the meeting.
- The sign-up period will open at the conclusion of the immediately preceding Council meeting and conclude one hour prior to the start of the next scheduled regular Council meeting. Speakers can add their names until noon on the meeting day or 6 p.m. during meetings when Public Comments are heard during the evening session.
- If a speaker wishes to present information in electronic format, the sign-up procedures remain the same; however, the electronic information must be submitted by 5 p.m. on the Friday before the Council meeting. This requirement is associated with technology security needs and to prevent compromise of the City computer network.
- The Clerk will deliver the list of those persons signed up to speak to the Mayor or presiding officer before the beginning of the meeting. The speakers will be called to the podium in the order the requests were received by the Clerk.
Rules of Decorum
Rules of Decorum for Public Comment
Public input and participation are of the utmost importance to the Raleigh City Council. While North Carolina General Statute § 160A-81.1 requires that municipal governing boards provide for public comment only once a month, the City of Raleigh has chosen to provide this opportunity at each bi-monthly regular Council meeting. The Council encourages individuals to use this process to bring issues to its attention and to share information. This will allow the Council to be better informed and, therefore, to more effectively govern the City and serve its constituents.
North Carolina General Statute § 160A-81.11 also allows the City Council to adopt reasonable rules which govern the conduct of the public comment period, including rules to maintain order and decorum. The Rules of Decorum, set forth below, are not intended to limit the content of the speaker’s message, but are instead to ensure that this part of the Agenda is conducted in a civil and orderly manner.
- Each speaker is allocated 3 minutes to speak. The Mayor or presiding officer may, in their discretion, increase or decrease this time allocation.
- A speaker may not share or relinquish any remaining time they have not used to another speaker.
- Speakers are only allowed to speak one time during the Public Comment period.
- A person may speak only if they have signed up to speak in accordance with the City’s procedures. Speaker substitutions at the meeting are not allowed.
- Speakers shall refrain from personal attacks and/or threats directed towards City staff or members of the public.
- Speakers shall be civil and courteous in their language and presentation. Insults, profanity, use of vulgar language or gestures or other inappropriate behavior are not allowed.
- Comments, questions, or jeering from the audience are not allowed. Speakers shall likewise not address or respond to members of the audience.
- Speakers should not expect Council members to comment on or respond to their comments directly during the meeting. The Mayor, or presiding officer may, however, request the City Manager’s office to follow up with a speaker after the meeting or provide additional information to the Council at a later date.
- The Mayor, or presiding officer, has the authority to enforce the Rules of Decorum. Failure to obey these Rules may result in the forfeiture of the remaining speaking time. Individuals who engage in egregious or repeated violations may be asked to leave the meeting. Speakers and members of the audience should also note the following Raleigh City Code provision and North Carolina General Statute:
Raleigh City Code Sec. 1-1034. – Enforcement of Decorum Requirements.
Any person who violates the order and decorum of a Council meeting shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
N.C. Gen. Stat.§ 143-318.17. - Disruptions of official meetings.
A person who willfully interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts an official meeting and who, upon being directed to leave the meeting by the presiding officer, willfully refuses to leave the meeting is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-81.1 Public comment period during regular meetings.
The council shall provide at least one period for public comment per month at a regular meeting of the council. The council may adopt reasonable rules governing the conduct of the public comment period, including, but not limited to, rules (i) fixing the maximum time allotted to each speaker, (ii) providing for the designation of spokesmen for groups of persons supporting or opposing the same positions, (iii) providing for the selection of delegates from groups of persons supporting or opposing the same positions when the number of persons wishing to attend the hearing exceeds the capacity of the hall, and (iv) providing for the maintenance of order and decorum in the conduct of the hearing. The council is not required to provide a public comment period under this section if no regular meeting is held during the month.