citizen engagement

Citizen attacks fellow citizen, swears – what can be done?

By Ann Macfarlane / March 5, 2021 /

Dear Dinosaur:  During public comment at a virtual meeting, one citizen was making blasphemous comments about another citizen in attendance, was escalating in emotion, and calling him names and added a few cuss words.  Then he pulls out pictures and past memos, etc.  I’m clear about allowing the citizen his freedom of speech.  He can…

Read More

Control disorder in your chambers

By Ann Macfarlane / October 22, 2019 / Comments Off on Control disorder in your chambers

Local governments face a tough climate these days. Customs of courtesy have faded and people are often both passionate and rude about their issues. If you are a mayor or presiding officer of a public body, it is critical that you control disorder in your chambers. Council meetings are meetings of the council The basic…

Read More

Danger Will Robinson! Public comment ahead!

By Ann Macfarlane / June 12, 2019 / Comments Off on Danger Will Robinson! Public comment ahead!

This post offers our readers a brilliant paper by municipal attorney Brett Vinson on the dangers of public comment. Anyone involved in receiving comment from the public during meetings will find it interesting and valuable. Read about the Nazi salute in Santa Cruz, singing a Whitney Houston song to express love for a councilmember, and…

Read More

Don’t get chummy

By Ann Macfarlane / November 28, 2018 /

City councilmembers and nonprofit board leaders should not get chummy—too familiar—with their constituents or regular members. Here’s why.

Read More

Choosing citizens by lottery: recipe for disaster?

By Ann Macfarlane / July 16, 2018 / Comments Off on Choosing citizens by lottery: recipe for disaster?
Liz Heath

The Washington Citizen’s Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials chooses half its 20 members by lottery.

Read More

Don’t get into back-and-forth exchanges during public comment

By Ann Macfarlane / March 6, 2018 /

Updated March 11, 2020 – see link to news story below. When city councils, school boards or other public bodies hold their meetings, it is usual to reserve a time in the meeting for members of the public to speak to their elected officials. One common name for this is the public comment period. We…

Read More