Thursday, July 18, 2013

Town Board Civility Policy

 
AS REQUESTED by a reader ...   
 
Policy for Decorum at Meetings of Public Boards

1. Purpose and Scope.
The New York State Open Meetings Law was enacted to open the decision-making

process of government officials to the public while protecting the ability of government

to carry out its responsibilities. It is essential to the legislative and governmental process

that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that the citizens of the

Town of Greece can attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the

making of public policy. The people’s right to know the process of government decisionmaking

is essential.

Public participation at Public Meetings is not required by law; rather, it is a consideration

given so that members of the public may have an opportunity to present their views on

matters before the Public Boards of the Town of Greece. Whether the public is allowed

to participate at a Public Meeting of a Public Board depends on the subject matter being

discussed and the purpose of the meeting. Each Public Board will decide whether it will

allow an Open Forum at its Public Meetings.

This policy contains information concerning the procedures by which meetings of the

Public Boards of the Town of Greece will be conducted.

2. Word Usage and Definitions.
A. Word usage. For the purposes of this policy, the following provisions and rules

shall apply to the use of words:

(1) Words used or defined in one tense or form shall include other tenses and

derivative forms.

(2) Unless specifically indicated otherwise, words used in the singular sense

shall include the plural sense, and words used in the plural sense shall

include the singular sense.

(3) The masculine gender shall include the feminine gender.

(4) The word “person” shall include individuals, associations, firms,

partnerships, corporations and any other similar entities.

(5) The word “shall” is mandatory and means that compliance is required.

(6) The word “may” is permissive and means that compliance is not required.

(7) References to local or state laws, ordinances, codes, rules or regulations or
sections thereof shall be construed to include the addendum “as from time

to time amended.”

(8) References to a specific public official or agency shall be construed to

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include successors and assigns.

B. All words in this policy which are not hereinafter defined shall carry the meanings

which are derived from customary use of the English language. If a dispute

should arise, the Town Board shall be responsible for determining which specific

meaning is appropriate for a word which has more than one meaning and which is

not defined in this policy.

C. Definitions. As used in this policy, the following terms shall have the meanings

indicated:

Open Forum The portion of a Public Meeting in which citizens have the

opportunity to formally communicate with a Public Board as a whole, for matters

that cannot be handled during the regular working hours of Town government. It

is not a question-and-answer session nor is it the time or place to comment on

previous applications that have come before a Public Board.

Public Board of the Town of Greece (also herein referred to as “Public Board”)

Any entity of the Town of Greece, for which a quorum is required in order to

conduct public business and which consists of two or more members, performing

a governmental function for the Town of Greece, or department thereof, or for a

public corporation, as defined in section sixty-six of the New York State General

Construction Law, or committee, or subcommittee or other similar entity. Public

Boards of the Town of Greece shall include but are not limited to the Greece

Town Board, the Town of Greece Planning Board, the Town of Greece Board of

Zoning Appeals, the Town of Greece Library Board, the Town of Greece

Environmental Board, and the Board of Assessment Review.

Public Hearing An open meeting conducted by a Public Board to gather

information from the public, and to survey public opinion as part of a local lawmaking,

rule-making or decision-making process. Unlike public meetings at

which the citizenry might only observe the members of the Public Board as they

conduct business, at a Public Hearing the citizens are encouraged to speak and

comment on the specific subjects addressed at such hearing. Usually such public

discussion focuses on public support for or opposition to a particular action

considered by a Public Board. Participation by the public is governed by rules of

procedure established by the Public Board prior to holding such Public Hearing.

Public Meeting The official convening of a Public Board of the Town of Greece

for the purpose of conducting public business.

3. Conduct.
 
A. Decorum. Meetings of a Public Board of the Town of Greece shall be conducted

in an orderly manner to ensure that the public present at the meeting has full

opportunity to hear the deliberative process of such board. Furthermore, if a

Public Board allows an Open Forum, that portion of the Public Meeting of the

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Public Board shall be conducted in an orderly manner to ensure that the public has

the full opportunity to be heard and that the deliberative process of such board is

retained at all times. The Supervisor, or in his absence his designee, shall be the

presiding officer of the Greece Town Board and shall be responsible for

maintaining the order and decorum of meetings. For other Public Boards, the

Chairman of such board, or in his absence his designee, shall be the presiding

officer of such board and shall be responsible for maintaining the order and

decorum of meetings.

B. Rules of Decorum. While any meeting of a Public Board of the Town of Greece

is in session, the following rules of order and decorum shall be observed:

1. Public Board members. The members of a Public Board of the Town of

Greece shall preserve order and decorum, and a member shall not by
 
conversation or other means delay or interrupt such Public Board’s
proceedings or disturb or disrupt any other member while such member is

speaking.

2. Town staff members. Employees of the Town of Greece shall observe the

same rules of order and decorum as those which apply to the members of

Public Boards of the Town of Greece.

3. Members of the audience. No person in the audience at a meeting of a

Public Board of the Town of Greece shall engage in disorderly or

boisterous conduct, including the utterance of loud, threatening or abusive

language, whistling, stamping of feet or other acts which disturb, disrupt

or otherwise prevent the business of government or which impede the

orderly conduct of any meeting of a Public Board. Any person who

conducts himself in the aforementioned manner shall, at the discretion of

the presiding officer or a majority of the members of such Public Board,

be barred from further audience before that Public Board during that

meeting.

4. Persons Addressing a Public Board of the Town of Greece. Public oral

communications at the Public Meetings of a Public Board of the Town of

Greece should not be a substitute for addressing any matters that can be

handled during the normal working hours of the municipal government.

Each person who addresses a Public Board at a Public Meeting shall do so

in an orderly manner and shall not make personal, impertinent, slanderous

or profane remarks to any member of a Public Board of the Town of

Greece, its staff or the general public. Any person who makes such

remarks, or who utters loud, threatening, personal or abusive language, or

engages in any other disorderly conduct which disrupts, disturbs or

otherwise impedes the orderly conduct of any Public Meeting of a Public

Board of the Town of Greece shall, at the discretion of the presiding

officer or a majority of the members of such Public Board, be barred from

further audience before that Public Board during that meeting.

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C. Addressing a Public Board. Persons addressing a Public Board of the Town of

Greece at an Open Forum or a Public Hearing shall observe the following

procedures:

1. Each person who wishes to address a Public Board of the Town of Greece
regarding an item which is on such board’s meeting agenda may seek
recognition by the presiding officer of such board during the Open Forum

portion of such meeting, provided that such board has an Open Forum. If

a Public Board does not allow an Open Forum, it shall be at the discretion

of the presiding officer of such board whether persons will be allowed to

address the board.

2. Each person who wishes to address a Public Board of the Town of Greece
regarding an item that is not on such board’s agenda may seek recognition
by the presiding officer during the Open Forum portion of the meeting,

provided that such board has an Open Forum. No person shall address a

Public Board without first being recognized by the presiding officer. It

shall be in the discretion of the presiding officer of a Public Board whether

persons will be allowed to address such board regarding an item that is not
on such board’s agenda.
3. Each person who wishes to address a Public Board during a Public

Hearing shall address only the issue being heard at such Public Hearing.

4. Each person who wishes to address a Public Board shall, in turn, come to

the podium provided for the use of the public and shall state his name and

address and the organization, if any, which he represents. Each person

who wishes to address a Public Board during the Open Forum portion of

the meeting shall also state the subject on which he wishes to address such

board. Such person who addresses a Public Board during the Open Forum

portion of a Public Meeting shall confine his remarks to the Public Board

agenda item or approved Open Forum topic.

5. During the Open Forum portion of a meeting, any subject which is not

deemed relevant by the presiding officer of the Public Board shall be

concluded.

6. The presiding officer of a Public Board shall have the right to terminate

the Open Forum portion of a meeting at any time.

7. Each person who addresses a Public Board shall limit his remarks to three

(3) minutes, unless further time is granted by the presiding officer of the

Public Board.

8. Each person who addresses a Public Board shall address his remarks to the

Public Board as a whole and not to any individual member thereof, unless

in response to a question from such individual board member.

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9. No question may be asked of a member of the Public Board or of the
Town’s staff without the permission of the presiding officer of such board.

D. Enforcement of Decorum. The rules of decorum set forth above shall be enforced

in the following manner:

1. Warning. The presiding officer of a Public Board of the Town of Greece

shall request that a person who is breaching the rules of decorum at a

meeting be orderly and silent. If, after receiving a warning from the

presiding officer of such board, a person persists in disturbing or

disrupting such meeting, the presiding officer shall order him to leave the

Public Board meeting. If such person does not remove himself, the

presiding officer may order any law enforcement officer who is on duty at

such meeting as sergeant-at-arms of such board to remove that person

from the board chambers.

2. Removal. Any law enforcement officer who is serving as sergeant-atarms

of a Public Board shall carry out all orders and instructions given by

the presiding officer of such board for the purpose of maintaining order

and decorum at the Public Board meeting. Upon instruction of the

presiding officer of such board, it shall be the duty of the sergeant-at-arms

to remove from the board meeting any person who is disturbing or

disrupting the proceedings of such board.

3. Resisting Removal. Any person who resists removal by the sergeant-atarms

of a Public Board or who violates the rules of decorum may be

charged with a violation of the appropriate section of New York State

Law.

4. Motion to Enforce. If the presiding officer of a Public Board fails to

enforce the rules set forth above, any member of such board may move to

require the presiding officer to do so, and an affirmative vote of a majority

of such board shall require the presiding officer to do so. If the presiding

officer of a Public Board fails to carry out the will of a majority of such

board, the majority may designate another member of such board to act as

presiding officer for the limited purpose of enforcing any rule of this

section which it wishes to enforce.

5. Adjournment. If a meeting of a Public Board is disturbed or disrupted in

such manner as to make infeasible or improbable the restoration of order,

such meeting may be recessed, adjourned or continued by the presiding

officer or by a majority of such board, and any remaining board business

may be considered at the next meeting of such board.

Adopted by the Town Board 1/1/2010.

Readopted 1/3/2011.


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Greece Town Board --proudly suppressing dissent since 1998 (or so)

Jeff said...

Off Topic, but had to share something I discovered in the Rochester Business Journal 2013 Schools Report Card.

GCSD Median Teacher Salary: $67,000 (nearly $10,000 higher than the average for Monroe County School Districts)

GCSD Spending per Student - $16,971 (nearly $2000 lower than the average for Monroe County School Districts)

Very Interesting figures.

SCATS said...

To 4:58PM ~~ I'm shocked to hear the spending per pupil is that much lower, especially since our enrollments continue to tank while our budget continues to balloon!

Anonymous said...

That figure was quite a shock to you, huh, Scats? Much lower that you would have guessed, right?

Anonymous said...

I read that, then I went by the optometrist office & got my eyeballs straightened.

What the hell is the policy on screaming BULLSH!T during a meeting?

SCATS said...

To 1:21PM ~~ Actually, the figure wasn't what shocked me. It's the idea that we're spending that much per pupil and not nearer to the top for spending, compared to other districts. The idea that Greece students are cheated out of many "extras" due to teacher salary issues is no surprise whatsoever.

Do you have a link to these figures? I'd love to look at them further.