Several people have asked me what limitations there are on political activities at City Council meetings. Here are some guidelines provided by City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller as informal opinions:
- Council meetings have been held by state and federal appellate courts to be a limited public forum allowing citizens to comment on subjects relating to the business of the City.
- City council may limit public comment to matters that are “within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”
- The public may not campaign in chambers for/against candidates because such candidate campaigns are not within the subject matter jurisdiction of the council.
- In fact, it is reasonable under the First Amendment for the City to establish a campaign-free zone for the purpose of conducting orderly and efficient meetings.
- However, the city council may hear from the public about ballot measures because the city council decides what should be placed on the ballot.