Judge Forces Chicago City Council to Change

Chicago City Council chambers (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Several months after a judge ruled that the Chicago City Council violated open meeting laws, a new set of public participation guidelines has been announced.

Among them: Members of the public will have up to three minutes to voice their views on any legislation up for a vote that day, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The comments will occur after roll call and invocation and before official business begins.

“Before unloading on aldermen, members of the public would have to give their names to the sergeant-at–arms,” the paper reports. “They would also have to refrain from using profanity.”

The guidelines follow a December ruling by Circuit Judge Diane J. Larsen, who mandated that the council “establish and record rules allowing public comments at full City Council meetings,” according to the Sun-Times. In her ruling, she stated that the city council violated the Open Meetings Act several times when activists weren’t allowed to comment on proposed legislation.

The lawsuit was originally filed by two people who said they were barred from the council chamber during a meeting. A spokesperson for City Council told the paper via email that the public body disagreed with the ruling.

“The City Council already provides a robust system of public comment through its committee meetings, and taking additional comments at the full City Council meeting is duplicative and unnecessary,” he wrote.

The mayor’s administration filed an appeal, but later withdrew it.