I have been attending my local city counsel meetings and at the end of tonight's meeting our mayor instructed the city counsel to not engage in any discussion with any person regarding a set of land use planning law they will be voting on next week.
Is this a violation of my right to have access to my elected public officials to discuss my concerns regarding these proposed laws?
Isn't this also a violation of the city counsel members right to hear and evaluate the concerns of their constituents?
Last I checked the US still has a constitution which protects our right to free speech and I would think that especially includes access to those who we elect and required to proxy our will as the people.
1 Answer from Attorneys
The mayor is trying to avoid what is called "ex parte contact" between the members of the council and interested persons. This is appropriate if the decision the council is making is an "adjudicative" decision involving disposition of say, one piece of land. Everyone involved is supposed to present their evidence and concerns to the council in open session, not behind closed doors or down the street somewhere. If, on the other hand, the council is merely deciding whether to adopt an ordinance or plan of general application, then it is not proper to ban such contacts by the council members.