Suit aims to lift restrictions on public comment at Philly Council meetings

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Philadelphia’s City Council is facing another lawsuit over its public access rules. 

A lawsuit forced city lawmakers to allow public comment at their meetings, but Council restricted comments to legislation on the second reading and final passage calendar.

During an Oct. 23 Council session, Patrick Duff tried to talk about issues not under consideration and wound up in a debate with Council President Darrell Clarke.

On Thursday, Duff made a speech and tacked something not under consideration at the end.

“I want to present you with this,” he said. “This is a lawsuit against the city I had to file because you don’t allow open public comment.”

Duff said he hopes the suit will bring about an open forum during the weekly council meetings.

“I’m sure everybody would like to speak openly in the city, and this will allow people to have open public comment that the Sunshine Act and the First Amendment allow us to do,” he said.

City attorneys had crafted a three-minute-rule with comments limited to legislation under final consideration after the previous attempt to open the meetings up completely.

 

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