Akron City Council voted last night to approve new rules limiting public comment and prohibiting signs and banners at meetings.
Under the new rules, which Ideastream reports passed by a vote of 8-5, public comment will be limited to 10 speakers at each meeting and members of the public can only speak once every 30 days, with Council President Margo Sommerville saying it will allow more people to address council.
The rule changes faced significant pushback from community members who feel the new rules do not fall under the stipulation of a “reasonable” limit on public speaking, which is a requirement laid out in the 2011 ballot initiative that established the public comment period, adding that they believe the rules unduly restrict public participation.
Ward 8 Councilman and soon to be Mayor Shammas Malik was one of 5 members that opposed the rule changes saying, “I understand the need to try to improve discourse and dialogue and decorum, but I do think that putting a limit on the number of people is not going to change people’s tone. In fact, it may well do the opposite.”