Portsmouth City Council Changes Rules for Public Input

Aug 22, 2017

Residents line up to speak during this Portsmouth City Council meeting in 2016.
Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

The Portsmouth City Council is changing the way it interacts with the public.

After a spirited debate Monday night, Portsmouth City Councilors voted 7-1 to replace every other meeting’s public comment period with a public dialogue session.

The dialogue session would allow councilors to respond to members of the public directly, something they can’t do during public comments.

Mayor Jack Blalock spoke in favor of the changes.  He said it's meant to increase public engagement in city council meetings.

“I really am excited about having this grand experiment and if it doesn’t work, I’ll be the first person to hand over the gavel and a make a motion to change it back.”

Several Portsmouth residents who spoke during the public comment section of the meeting, as well as assistant mayor Jim Splaine, opposed the changes.