Judge tosses suit challenging comment times at Palm Beach County Commission meetings

Larson

Larson

A judge has tossed, for now, a suit by two regulars at Palm Beach County Commission meetings who claim the county’s limit on their comments

Lozman

Lozman

violates state public meetings laws.

 

In a Friday afternoon email to commissioners and staff, County Attorney Denise Nieman said that Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Lisa Small had earlier that day dismissed the complaint but had given the plaintiffs 15 days to submit an amended one.

In a suit filed Feb. 17 in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Alex Larson and Fane Lozman, citing the state’s Government in the Sunshine Law, demanded the county either stop using a “consent agenda” or not limit speakers during that discussion.

The county has argued that the plaintiffs failed to show an injury that would occur if the court did not rule for them. The county’s March 28 motion to dismiss said it has the right to limit comment times and people are free to submit written materials and even items such as PowerPoint presentations in advance of the meeting.

The consent agenda is a list of items, most of them housekeeping, which commissioners dispense with in a single vote unless someone wants to pull one in advance for more discussion. Members of the public get three minutes to comment on a regular agenda item. But, the suit said, at the Dec. 15 meeting, when Larson rose to speak on nine items on the consent agenda, she was limited to three minutes total for all nine.