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Pensacola’s city council plans to discuss several changes to its rules and procedures next week, including the elimination of the “Boyd Forum” that takes place at the beginning of council meetings.

The public input forum, which currently takes place both at the beginning and end of city council meetings, was named in honor of longtime community activist LeRoy Boyd in 2011. Boyd, who led the Movement for Change organization and successfully campaigned for a street to be named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a longtime fixture at the council’s open forums. While citizens wishing to speak about a specific agenda item may do so during the meeting, Boyd Forum is the only outlet for those wishing to speak about an issue not on the council’s agenda.

Staff recommendations circulated by Council Executive Donald Kraher this week include dropping the segment from the beginning of council meetings and moving the open forum to the end of meetings. With at least one council meeting this year lasting more than six hours, the rule change could mean that some citizens wanting to speak would have to wait until 11:00 p.m. or later.

At least one council member is unequivocally opposed to the proposed change. “I will not support having Boyd Forum at the end,” said Councilwoman Sherri Myers. “Absolutely not.”

Myers recounted her experience prior to being elected to the city council, when she sometimes waited late into the night to be able to address council members. “In the old days, council used to have public forum at the end of their meetings. Many nights I sat there until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. just to speak for five minutes about getting the grass cut in Parker Circle Park.”

Unlike most issues to come before the city council, a sponsor isn’t attached to the proposed rule changes, and it’s unclear who is behind the push to change the way Boyd Forum is held. Asked about the proposed changes on Thursday, Kraher would not say where they originated. “Out of respect and deference to the City Council, I will respectfully delay further comment until the workshop,” said Kraher. “I will say, however, that whatever proposals, recommendations, or suggestions put forth have not been done as the result of individual requests.”

WHAT:Pensacola City Council Workshop
(Changes to Rules and Procedures)
WHEN:Monday, December 7
Immediately following the CRA meeting (which immediately follows the council’s Agenda Conference meeting, beginning at 3:30 p.m.)
WHERE:Hagler/Mason Room, Second Floor
Pensacola City Hall
Pensacola, FL 32502

The agenda for Monday’s workshop, which includes all the proposed changes to the city council’s rules, is included below:

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