PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It was an exchange of words during this weeks Phoenix City Council meeting that highlights a big issue in the city, state, and country.
Councilman Sal DiCiccio and Mayor Greg Stanton exchanged words after the Mayor refused to let the Councilman respond to critics of the Phoenix Police Department during an open call to the audience.
DiCiccio says he wanted to "defend the police against rhetoric of supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement."
The Mayor and City Attorney told the councilman that he could not speak because it would violate Arizona's Open Meetings Law.
The law, ARS-38-431.01, which was updated in 2000 covers how meetings should be handled in the State of Arizona. Specifically in section H, it states as follows "H. A public body may make an open call to the public during a public meeting, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, to allow individuals to address the public body on any issue within the jurisdiction of the public body. At the conclusion of an open call to the public, individual members of the public body may respond to criticism made by those who have addressed the public body, may ask staff to review a matter or may ask that a matter be put on a future agenda. However, members of the public body shall not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during an open call to the public unless the matters are properly noticed for discussion and legal action."
One question is whether DiCiccio's request to speak would be considered responding to criticism from the audience.
The City of Phoenix responded as follows: "An Attorney General’s opinion, interpreting the open-meetings law, states that:
The Open Meetings Law permits public bodies to allow members of the public to comment at meetings during a properly conducted “open call to the public.” At properly conducted open calls to the public, individual members of the public body may request that staff follow up on an item or that the item be placed on a future agenda, but they may not dialogue with the presenter or collectively discuss, consider, or decide any item not listed on the agenda.
Mr. Holm understood that Councilman DiCiccio intended to discuss and respond to public comments. On that basis, he advised Mayor and Council that the response may violate the open-meetings law."
Tell us what you think. Was the Mayor right? Should DiCiccio have been able to respond? Join in the conversation below.