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Public participation in upcoming city council meetings moved online

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Posted at 7:41 PM, Jun 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-21 22:25:22-04

CINCINNATI — After Thursday's abrupt end to Cincinnati City Council's budget meeting led to protests, and Governor Mike DeWine announced Hamilton County had become a hotspot for COVID-19 case increases, Mayor John Cranley has issued an emergency order stating all public participation in upcoming council meetings will be handled differently.

Public participation in upcoming Cincinnati City Council meetings will be partially through Zoom, and participants wishing to speak must register ahead of time.

The order states the public's participation in future meetings, specifically the Budget & Finance Committee meeting at 1:00 p.m. Monday and the Citizen Forum of Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., will be handled this way.

Each citizen wishing to speak will have to register ahead of time -- in this case, the form must be completed and submitted by 10:00 a.m. Monday to participate in the Budget & Finance Committee meeting and by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday to participate in the Citizen Forum of Cincinnati City Council meeting.

Registrants will then be given a time slot in advance of the meeting, the order states. The first 40 minutes of each hour will be dedicated to in-person comments, followed by 20 minutes of Zoom participants, which the order speculates would be around 10 speakers.

Speakers have to arrive at City Hall 10 minutes before their scheduled time slot, will be escorted in to Council Chambers and must leave after speaking if there are still others in line waiting to speak.

Cranley issued the emergency order Sunday evening, citing the spike in COVID-19 cases and Hamilton County's new identification as a hotspot as the reason.

"Because of the need to practice physical distancing and the great desire to speak, I am issuing an order that will be the mandatory approach to public comment until the budget is adopted," Cranley wrote in an email to council members.