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Relinquishing Speaking Time


Guest James B
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If a township zoning board operates on RONR, can a member of the public relinquish their speaking time to another member of the public?

The local zoning board allows individuals just 3-minutes to speak. If Person A has more to say, can Person B relinquish / give their 3-minute time to Person A?

Thanks,

Jim

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If the board follows RONR without modification, members of the public have no right to speak to begin with. In your case, though, it seems your rules (whether statutes, bylaws, or otherwise) allow members of the public to speak, so the task is really to interpret that rule. As a general rule, the right to speak does not imply the right to transfer that right - for instance, under RONR, a member may speak twice for 10 minutes, and cannot transfer that. So in line with the general rule, if your rule does not provide otherwise, the best answer is that Person B cannot do so. But you'll need to consult your rule establishing the 3 minute rule to be sure.

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39 minutes ago, Guest James B said:

. If Person A has more to say, can Person B relinquish / give their 3-minute time to Person A?

 

17 minutes ago, jstackpo said:

No, not according to RONR.  p. 388.

Well, I agree "possibly not" according to RONR, but the quoted passage on page 388 refers to members yielding time to other members. In this case, it is not a member who would be yielding time but a member of the public who has apparently been granted the right, by rule, statute, or by motion, to address a public zoning board. I don't think the rule on page 388 is really applicable but I think it does provide guidance.

With this being a public body, I would imagine the matter is controlled by rules or statutes Superior to those in RONR or that it is within the discretion of the assembly.

My own city council used to permit it by custom, but stopped the practice and adopted a rule prohibiting it when a member of the public abused it by having six or eight other members of the public yield time to him so that he could put on a 20 or 25 minute PowerPoint presentation. 

I would say that if there is not already a superior rule or statute on point, that it is within the sound discretion of the zoning board.

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Thank you all. 

The right to speak as a member of the public does come from state statutes covering the public body. It appears that each public body can set up their own rules, but must allow members of the public the opportunity to speak. Yielding (the word I couldn't remember last night) isn't mentioned in any of the Open Meeting Act statutes, so I thought I'd see what RONR might have to say.

You all are the best!

Regards,
Jim

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