Non-Agenda Speakers Blackout

Image: Citizens Showing Disapproval of Council Policy holding Winnie-the-Pooh characters with mouths taped shut (photo at

Just wanted to let you know, [last night’s] public work session (PWS) was ended (for the public) with a discussion about how the non-agenda speakers will not be aired at city council meetings from tonight on.

The mayor opened the discussion and read a draft of a statement to be made to the public at the council meeting about this, then he opened the floor for comments from other council members. Mr. Moody made a strong argument for continuing to air non-agenda speakers. Ms. Psimas stated that, although she had stated on many occasions her concerns about what was aired, she considered the needs of people who could not attend meetings to be important, too. She also said that the mayor had the gavel and could control speakers who were making personal attacks, etc., to a degree, but that other council members had to back him when he did so (which is undeniably true). She further recommended that the decision to stop airing the public’s comments should be delayed until after tonight’s meeting and the community meeting next week. Mr. Moody agreed that waiting until after the community meeting to make the decision was a good idea and asked for consensus. Unfortunately, other council members–Mr. Cherry, Mr. Edmonds, Mr. Meeks, and Ms. Randall–supported the black-out, so we would have been left in the dark this Tuesday and would be at the community meeting on January 15…

EXCEPT, Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky was there with enhanced video equipment, and I believe he will be at the next meeting, too. So I’m hoping to be able to tune in soon to to hear what people had to say to council tonight! And I’m planning to be at the community meeting on January 15 at 7 p.m. at I.C. Norcom High School, where I hope you will join me and speak (briefly and civilly) about not having a voice at city council meetings. (And video back-up for Mark would probably also be welcome; I’m sorry, I’m still trying to figure out my camera.)

You should be able to watch tonight’s PWS at tomorrow or soon thereafter, so you can hear for yourself who said what before the council meeting. I was so dispirited by the results of the PWS that instead of staying for the council meeting and speaking about the tolls court date, the new year’s farmers market, and plans to work on the USCG City celebration this year, I left. My announcements were for council AND our fellow citizens, many of whom were not in council chambers tonight (as was pointed out by Ms. Psimas). Tonight, a majority on council took away my voice–and yours.

Terry Danaher

One thought on “Non-Agenda Speakers Blackout

  1. Portsmouth Civic Leaders,
    “Your Presence and Voice must be taken into Account.”

    As many of you are aware last week Portsmouth City Council approved, during a Tuesday work session, and implemented immediately an action to remove the televising of Portsmouth non-agenda speakers during city council regular 7:00pm, 2nd and 4th Tuesday’s of the month.

    Several Portsmouth citizens’ came forward to protest this surprising change in city council’s adverse behavior regarding the long established opportunity for many citizens to express concerns, community developments and awareness of activities throughout Portsmouth neighborhoods.

    Most of you have used this “non-agenda” speaker portion of council meetings to provide valuable information for your fellow citizens and most of us have come to view this portion (non-agenda speakers) of Portsmouth City Council meetings as an important and effective means to reach out to those citizens that are unable to attend a live session.

    Portsmouth Leaders, it is an unfortunate loss we will all experience if you and every organization in Portsmouth does not UNITE AND STOP Portsmouth City Council from denying the people a forum to express their opinions.

    “We are the city, which claims roots in the Civil Rights Movements.”
    Let us tread lightly on this path and not alter all the years which we have traveled!

    “We are the communities that call ourselves the Portsmouth Family.”
    A family does not survive if a part is separated!

    Portsmouth we will become non-existent if all of us remain non-committed.

    A community meeting has been announced by Portsmouth City Council to “hear the Portsmouth Citizens’ response.”

    Date: January 15th, 2013
    Time: 7:00pm
    Place: I.C. Norcom
    • When you attend express your thoughts. However, if you do not attend your non-action will also make a statement!
    • Please review the Portsmouth City Council censored portion of 1/8/2013 on
    click on the Video tab.
    • Please review the Virginian Pilots article dated 1/9/2013 by Clay Barbour

    Jennifer Lee
    Portsmouth Citizen

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