During the new Raleigh City Council’s first meeting in December, a resident named Barbara Smalley-McMahan violated the council’s rules of decorum by daring to mention the name of the chief of police during the public comment period. 

Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin banged her gavel and sternly told Smalley-McMahan that if she did it again, she would be told to leave.

The INDY called her out on it

The rules were bad when the previous iteration of the council enacted them earlier last year, and they were no less bad when a new council—which had promised to govern transparently—not only kept them but expanded them to include not just council members but staff members as well. 

Fortunately, the council now seems poised for a course correction.

On Tuesday, it will consider a draft of new rules that would allow residents to use the names of staff and council members during public comment grievances as long as they refrain from personal attacks, vulgar language, or gestures. Basically, as long as speakers act like civil adults, they can say what they want.

You can read the full new rules here. 

The rules were drafted by council members Patrick Buffkin, Jonathan Melton, and Baldwin, with assistance from city staff. The new council moved quickly in response to backlash from the public, as it has on several issues since being sworn in last month. 

“We all sat down and put our heads together and did a lot of research and came up with what we think is an appropriate change,” Melton told the INDY Friday. “We just want to make it easier to come before the council [and] eliminate whatever barriers were in place.”

The council is likely to vote on the rules Tuesday. 

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Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com.

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