The mayor “interrupted” such comments this month after disruptions and accusations that he was “communist.”
According to a statement released on Tuesday, the mayor of St. George’s will again allow public posting at city council meetings starting in July, after she stopped such comments earlier this month on the grounds that they were disruptive and had largely “devolved into statements unrelated.” to do with city affairs”.
Mayor Michele Randall announced her first decision to curb public opinion at a May 4 council meeting. Public comment will now resume on July 4th. Anyone wishing to comment must follow the new rules, which the mayor set out in her statement on Tuesday.
Randall and others had argued that unruly commentators had hampered the council’s work. For example, in April, a large group labeled “Protect Utah’s Kids” attended a city council meeting to protest drag shows, ridiculed transgender people, and accused the mayor and other city leaders of trying to “protect St. George, the drag queen center of the west.”
Drag shows have become a contentious issue in the southern Utah city after HBO Max’s drag show “We’re Here” was filmed there in June 2022.
[Read more: St. George leaders reject permit for another drag show and a food event]
Those wishing to comment at city council meetings must reside in St. George and provide the city clerk with their name and address, the mayor said Tuesday. The public cannot comment on “any agenda item or pending land use applications,” only “city issues.”
No more than 10 people may speak at a meeting, with speaking time limited to two minutes per person. Commenters must be “respectful” and must not attack others and must not use “obscene or profane language,” the statement said.
If more than 10 people wish to speak, officials will select 10 people at random. The selected individuals will not be able to comment at future meetings for three months.
Those who disrupt meetings with “inappropriate applause, taunts, unsolicited comments or other protests” are urged to leave city council chambers, the statement said.
The city is also accepting written comments from St. George residents, even those who have previously spoken at a council meeting in the neighborhood. Comments may be submitted in person or by mail to the City Clerk at 175 E. 200 North, St. George, UT 84770 or by email to email@example.com. Residents can also submit comments on the city’s website at sgcity.org/contact/submitpubliccomment.
In her statement announcing the new comment policy, Randall noted that public contributions at council meetings are not required by Utah law. This “public contribution” is distinct from “public hearings” required by law.
“As we enter budget approval season over the next few weeks, being able to devote as much time as possible to this process is critical,” she said in the statement. “There will be a public hearing specifically on the budget before passage in June.”