What Happened at Your Local Council Meeting?

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Have you attended a City Council or County Commission meeting in your area recently? Do you want to know what is scheduled for an upcoming Council meeting or what happened at the last Commission meeting?

In a recent article in The Seattle Times, entitled “Talk of the Town,” by Nancy Bartley, Seattle Times staff reporter, cities and towns around the country are establishing new rules regarding public meetings. Cities and counties are experiencing citizens that use public comment time during meetings to discuss a political candidate, sell a product, or promote a blog. According to Tim Ford, former Ombudsman for Washington State Attorney General’s Office, the State of Washington Open Public Meeting Act does not require cities to allow citizens to speak at meetings, except during public hearings. Cities can limit public comment time in a hearing. If they do allow comment, they can regulate foul language or comments that have no relation to city business. Some cities have found it necessary to limit public comment and are revising the frequency of meetings or length of public comment.

If you’d like to follow the happenings at council meetings in your area, or find out the policies of the meetings, you can find online information on our “Free Public Records Search Directory” website. From the main page of our site, choose your state and county and then scroll to any available “meeting minutes and agendas.” You can also search for city or town meeting links using the alphabet of cities and towns at the top of each county page. As an added benefit, many cities record their meetings making it possible to view the meetings on tv or online, which are also available on our website.

For instance, the City of Phoenix, Arizona, provides meeting agendas, meeting minutes and meeting videos from 2002 to present all on one “formal meetings” website. On Los Angeles County, California’s “proceedings” website, you can search meeting agendas by keyword or exact phrase including by date range.

The Miami-Dade County, Florida, “webcast” website provides links to meeting videos, MP 3 audio and MP4 video for the County Commissioners, and a number of other County commissions and committees. You can view the City of Boston, Massachusetts, “City Council meeting” agendas, minutes and videos by date from present to 2011.

New York City has a great website “NYC gov” that provides a link to the Mayor’s daily press conferences, announcements, town hall meetings, bill signings, and keynote speeches, and a link to the City Council’s legislation, hearings and press room. You can watch the proceedings on tv, on itunes, and on the City’s video on demand site.

As you can see, if you are interested in attending a meeting, knowing what is planned for an upcoming meeting, or either watch or read what was discussed in a prior meeting, we can provide links for most of the municipalities in the U.S. If staying informed is important to you, please take advantage of this great resource. We also provide links to other public records including laws, codes, permits, court records, and more.