|(Nov. 8, 2021, 7:00 p.m.) -- As LBREPORT.com has previously noted, Mayor Garcia and LB City Councilmembers are shrugging a new state law (SB 361) that lets City Councils statewide allow the public to use telephone or computer to speak remotely on Council agenda items. The new law expressly allows "hybrid" meetings that combine in person proceedings with remote testimony, which other public bodies allow.
If you plan on attending the Nov 9 Council meeting you have an opportunity to also speak on this item which is item #1 on the Council's "consent calendar." We've spelled out exactly what to do and included a suggested short text (less than 90 seconds.)
- 1. Council rules require the public to "sign up" to speak to an agenda item before the Mayor calls it. This agenda item is #1 on the Council's "consent calendar" meaning he may call it early in the meeting (possibly directly after pledge of allegiance) and you must have filled out a speakers' card to speak to item 1 before the Mayor calls it. The Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
- 2. AFTER you've signed up to speak, wait until the "consent calendar" is called and you and others who've signed up will be invited to speak to item #1. Here's our suggested text:
"My name is XXXXXXXXXXXX and I live at (exact address is optional) in Council district ____ and I'm testifying on Consent Calendar item #1.
"Newly enacted state law SB361 explicitly allows this Council to let the public speak to agenda items by telephone or computer connection. The new law explicitly allows meetings that combine in-person testimony with telephone or computer testimony. This is a modest request as it simply restores the public's right to use the technology that the Council previously allowed. Other public bodies allow remote and/or hybrid testimony but Long Beach's Council has thus far refused. Perhaps that's because SB361 gives the public greater speaking rights in remote testimony than this Council and Mayor Garcia allow in person.
"I object to the City's refusal to allow the public to speak at City Council meetings by remote means. I ask at least one Councilmember to make a motion, inviting a second, to amend the proposed agendized resolution to restore the public's right to speak on Council agenda items by telephone and/or by computer. SB361 explicitly allows this and the Council can and should restore this in hybrid meeting form. Thank you."
- 3. Prior to the Council meeting, email a copy of your testimony to the City Clerk (not to "e-comments") at "firstname.lastname@example.org" and specifically ask that it be attached to the agenda item.
Remember: the City Clerk doesn't decide this. The City Attorney doesn't decide this (state law allows it.) The Mayor doesn't decide this (he presides but doesn't have a policy setting vote that sets Council rules.) LB's policy-setting City Council (subject to state law) decides this. The Council sets Council meeting public speaking rules by voted action. (The Mayor answers to them, not vice versa.)
Act now, because as time passes and this right is lost, it likely won't return.