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Peekskill Sets Ground Rules For Public Comment

An altercation at the Sept. 23 Peekskill Common Council meeting has led to new rules in place for conduct at meetings.
An altercation at the Sept. 23 Peekskill Common Council meeting has led to new rules in place for conduct at meetings. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the City of Peekskill

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- The City of Peekskill is hoping that new rules will make meetings more civil.

The Common Council unanimously approved a resolution setting eight new ground rules for public comment and filming of meetings on Monday, Oct. 7. The rules are in response to two altercations that occurred at a Sept. 23 meeting that required police to be called.

The podium will be moved to the front and center of the chambers, so speakers will face the council when they speak. Citizens who wish to speak will line up on the left and exit to the right.

The public will be invited to the speak to the council at the start of the meeting about agenda items for three minutes and at the end of the meeting on any topic for three minutes.

The council is also adding a digital countdown clock so people know when their time is up. Foul language and shouting from the crowd will not be tolerated and will lead to ejection.

The city is also setting up a special section for video cameras and tripods.

"We simply won't tolerate disruptive behavior at council meetings," said Mayor Mary Foster. "These measures are designed to ensure the safety of our citizens, the right to free speech and to keep the process of government running smoothly."

Councilman Darren Rigger said residents have expressed concern to him about public conduct at meetings.

"We have a responsibility to protect everyone's right t speak and be heard," Rigger said. "No one should ever be intimidated by or be afraid of attending a public meeting."

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