Myrtle Beach City Council encourages civil discourse

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Myrtle Beach City Council approved an access and decorum policy for all City Council meetings, as well as meetings of other city boards, commissions and committees.  The resolution encourages appropriate and even passionate expression of all points of view; however, Council recognizes that expressions in a public meeting should be reasonable and civil.

In an effort to preserve the intent of open government and maintain a positive environment for input and decision-making, City Council established the following Rules of Decorum.

  •  The Mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Council; the Mayor Pro Tem serves in the Mayor’s absence.  The Presiding Officers of the various boards, commissions and committees serve in like manner.
  • All persons may address City Council on a matter of public concern which is not on the agenda by signing in to address City Council using procedures outlined for Council meetings and Council work sessions.
  • In order to be recognized to address Council on a matter not on the agenda, speakers must provide their name, address and whether or not they are citizens of the City of Myrtle Beach, and the topic of their non-agenda concern.
  • Citizens of the City of Myrtle Beach are afforded an opportunity to address Council first, before non-citizens, in the 30-minute time period set aside for non-agenda concerns.
  • In an effort to accommodate all who wish to address Council while preserving a reasonable and efficient meeting schedule, each speaker will have a specified amount of time to deliver comments.  Speakers will be allowed to speak for up to three minutes.  That time may be extended upon motion, second and vote of the body.
  • The speaker will be timed by the City Clerk or designee; please pay attention to the time clock.  Speakers are expected to cease comments immediately upon expiration of time.
  • Given the three-minute time limit for non-agenda public commentary, speakers are encouraged to prepare remarks in advance for submission to the public record.  Prepared remarks may be submitted to the City Clerk prior to the start of the meeting or at the end of their comments.  Additional material may be submitted to supplement remarks.
  • In order to be recognized to address Council on an agenda item, speakers should raise their hand and, when addressing Council, provide their name, address and whether or not they are citizens of the City of Myrtle Beach.
  • In the case of an agenda item regarding a public hearing, such as the granting of a franchise, speakers may only address those matters pertinent to the public hearing.
  • Speakers, whether public or appointed for the public, will conduct themselves in a civil and respectful manner at all times, particularly refraining from interruptions of other speakers, which is disruptive per se.
  • Public speakers will address the presiding officer, not staff or members of the audience.
  • Questions to Council members or City staff will be facilitated, answered or directed to appropriate staff by the presiding officer, in his or her discretion.
  • Speakers will make an effort to speak clearly into the microphone provided. Speakers will make an effort to speak succinctly.
  • Speakers will refrain from the use of individual City staff names in denunciation.  It is appropriate to refer to staff by title and/or department.
  • Speakers will refrain from the use of obscene language, “fighting words” likely to incite violence from the individual(s) to whom the words are addressed, or other language which is disruptive to the orderly and fair progress of discussion at the meeting.  Speakers will refrain from making comments of a personal nature regarding others.  Name-calling, vulgarity, profanity and obscenity are disruptive per se.  Shouting, yelling or screaming are disruptive, per se.
  • Council work session or public hearing attendees (audience) will refrain from commenting, shouting, booing, clapping, stomping feet or other inappropriate, boisterous and/or disruptive behavior.  Brief clapping is permissible at the end of a speaker’s comments.
  • Council work session or public hearing attendees (audience) should refrain from private conversations during meetings.
  • Council work session or public hearing attendees (audience) should come and go as necessary from meeting space in the least disruptive manner as possible.
  • No campaign placards, banners or signs will be permitted in the City Council Chambers or Committee Room.  Other signage is permitted, except signs which violate the Rules of Decorum or that block the view of other attendees.
  • Exhibits, displays, and visual aids used in connection with presentations to the City Council are permitted.  Video presentations requested by citizens as visual aids may not be broadcast over cable television due to technological challenges.

If a citizen disregards the established rules, the presiding officer will identify the disruptive person, warn the disruptor, read the relevant “rules of decorum,” and make a motion to declare the person “out of order.”  If the behavior continues and another member of the body seconds the motion to declare the person “out of order,” the disruptor will get another warning to stand down.  If the disruptor does not adhere to the warnings, the presiding officer or any member of the body can ask a police officer to escort the disruptive person out of the meeting.