The Mayor and Town Council must meet the minimum requirements of the Maryland Annotated Code Section 10-501, Attendance at Open Session. The Mayor and Council are also governed by the Town Charter Section C-13A, Meetings of the Mayor and Council.
The Maryland Annotated Code allows “a public body shall adopt and enforce reasonable rules regarding the conduct of persons attending its meetings and the videotaping, televising, photographing, broadcasting, or recording of its meetings.”
1. Regular Meeting A meeting of the Mayor and Town Council ordinarily on the second Thursday of each month usually televised and videotaped, for discussion and decision on regular Town business.
2. Special Meetings A meeting of the Mayor and Town Council for discussion and decision on specific items.
3. Worksession A meeting of the Mayor and Town Council, usually on the fourth Thursday of each month, to administratively discuss and decide pending Town business, and requests for exceptions to the Town Code. Pursuant to the Charter, a worksession is not a regular or special meeting of the Mayor and Town Council.
4. Closed Meeting Any regular or special meeting or worksession ordinarily open to the public, may be closed but only pursuant to the provisions of State Law.
II. Citizen Input
At regular and special meetings, residents of the Town shall have the opportunity to address the Mayor and Council on any item on the agenda. Each regular meeting shall also have an agenda item for citizen input, during which any resident of the Town may address the Mayor and Council on matters or items not on the agenda. Individuals not residing in the Town may speak at regular or special meetings under conditions specified by the Chair.
Speakers Must State Their Name, For The Record And Their Address Or Approximate Location. The Chair Will Provide Instructions To Speakers That They Must Provide Their Address On The Speaker Sign-In Form.
Ordinarily, for each agenda item, including citizen input, speakers shall have one opportunity to speak and may not poll or ask questions of individual councilmembers, staff or public officials. Otherwise, the Chair shall determine the conduct of the public discussions on any issue and may set reasonable time limits for such.
At worksessions, residents shall ordinarily be afforded an opportunity to speak only with the permission of the Chair. Non-residents may be allowed to speak on any issue, but only under conditions specified by the Chair.
III. Disruptive Conduct
Disruptive conduct is difficult to define. The Chair must balance the right to free and open expression with concern for order and the right to peacefully attend and hear the meeting. Disruptive conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following examples and illustrations:
- Conduct that interrupts the orderly course of business or imminently threatens the orderly conduct of any meeting;
- Inflammatory language (impolite or un-civil language is not ordinarily disruptive);
- Refusing to obey time limits set by the Chair;
- Speaking out of turn or while others are speaking;
- Impeding others from hearing or seeing any part of the meeting;
If a person’s language or conduct is deemed by the Chair to be disruptive of the conduct of the meeting, the Chair has the discretion to institute the following steps progressively:
1. Warn the person that he/she is being disruptive and must cease the conduct.
2. If the language or conduct does not promptly cease or it occurs again:
- Warn the person of his or her imminent removal if he/she does not cease the disruptive conduct.
- Order the person to leave the podium, the room, or the building if necessary if step (a) is unsuccessful.
- Request police assistance for the enforcement of the Chair’s order.
While videotaping and/or broadcasting of public meetings are allowed, the Town requires that notification be provided to the Chair prior to video/audio taping of public meetings.