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Posted on: April 3, 2020

Mayor Announces April 7 Board of Directors Meeting will be Virtual

older man sitting at a wooden table with a laptop

Siloam Springs Mayor John Mark Turner has announced that the April 7 meeting of the Board of Directors will take place in a virtual setting, via Zoom Video Conferencing. Using Zoom Video Conferencing, residents will be able to join the meeting online or by phone and will be able to provide comments that will be part on the record.  In-lieu of participating in the meeting via Zoom, residents who wish to provide comments as part of the regularly scheduled public input portion of the meeting, or on a particular agenda item, may email comments to the City Clerk, a minimum of 1-hour in advance of the workshop (no later than 4:30 p.m.), to have your comments read into the record. Please provide the agenda item number/letter when emailing. If your comments are meant for general public input, please state that.  You may email your comments to cityadmin@siloamsprings.com  or rellis@siloamsprings.com  


If a resident wishes to participate in the Board meeting via Zoom, please follow these directions.   

Zoom online meeting instructions for the public (attendees):  

Time: Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 5:30 pm workshop and 6:30 pm Board of Directors meeting  

Join Zoom meeting via the Zoom video conferencing website or app (pc/Mac; iOS Android):   


Via the Internet: 

  • Website: https://zoom.us/j/754803582  
  • If you are joining the meeting via pc/Mac or mobile device, please use your full name as your screen name. 


Via Phone:   

  • Dial in with telephone: 1-669-900-9128.   
  • You will be prompted to enter the meeting id#  
  • Meeting id: 754-803-582  
  • When prompted for a participant or attendee number, press #. 
  • The following commands can be entered using your phone’s dial pad while in a Zoom meeting:  
    • *6 - toggle mute/unmute  
    • *9 - raise hand  
    • *attendees utilizing the “dial in with telephone” feature will have their telephone number masked.  example: 1-479-****-777 


All Zoom attendees will need to utilize the “raise their hand” function in the zoom meeting to be recognized when the public is asked if anyone wishes to speak.  

  • The moderator will unmute attendees when the forum is open for public commentary.  
  • All attendees will be muted automatically upon joining the meeting. 

 

The following questions/answers are provided to help everyone understand why the meeting is going to conducted in this manner: 

 

Will the Public Be Allowed to Come to the Board Room for the Meeting?  

Per Governor’s orders only 10 or less can congregate. Mayor John Mark Turner has closed the meeting to in-person attendance. Anyone can attend the meeting virtually via Zoom or by calling in if they do not have internet access.    


If Attendance Isn’t Allowed, How Can I Have My Comments Heard?  

The public can join the meeting via Zoom, or can email their comments to  cityadmin@siloamsprings.com or rellis@siloamsprings.com  at least 1-hour before the April 7 workshop meeting of the Board of Directors (no later than 4:30 p.m.) in order to have their comments read into the record. Additionally, attendees using Zoom will have the option to “raise their hand” to be recognized by Mayor Turner. Your call will then be unmuted, and you will have an opportunity to speak to all attendees and panelists.   


How Can I Watch the Board Meeting?  

You can view the meeting live via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/cityofsiloamsprings/playlists or as a participant via Zoom https://zoom.us/j/754803582. One may also phone in via Zoom to listen to the meeting if they do not have internet access.   

Playback will be available on Cox Channel 245 and on the City’s website beginning April 8, 2020.  https://siloamsprings.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2  


 Are Virtual Meetings Allowed?   

While virtual meetings are not specifically mentioned in State statute, city staff is presenting a Resolution to the Board of Directors for approval that will create a precedent for this type of meeting.  Additionally, many municipalities have asked the State whether or not council/board members can attend meetings, and vote, virtually? In other words, can council members participate in the meeting by phone or some other electronic means?  The Arkansas Attorney General has indicated the most likely answer is ‘yes.’ However, ‘virtual’ participation must ensure the public’s ability to participate in the meeting is maintained. While the law is not crystal clear, we look to guidance from the Attorney General, who cites to a well-respected book on the FOIA.   According to the Attorney General, for ‘virtual’ participation by council members to not violate the FOIA, “there must also be some means of safeguarding the public’s right to hear or monitor the telephone conversation or the electronic discussion, e.g., by use of speaker phones or by logging on to the computer network.   A related question is: Can a city council/board meeting be conducted with the public participating ‘virtually’? Or, in other words, can a council meeting be conducted with the public participating by telephone, video or Facebook Live?  The answer to this question is also not crystal clear; however, the Arkansas Municipal League believes the same logic from the AG opinion mentioned above applies to this question, as well. So, while the answer is likely ‘yes,’ public participation must still be maintained.  However, considering these difficult times, the Arkansas Municipal League believes that as long as the proper safeguards are in place to ensure all members of the public can hear the council/board and that the council/board can hear the public, the meeting will not violate the FOIA.   


 


 


 


 

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