JoCo Commission will allow public comments via Zoom but still won’t livestream them

Johnson County Commission public comment

People will now be able to make public comments via Zoom during county commission meetings. Chair Mike Kelly announced Thursday that the commission would reinstate a rule allowing people to

People will now be able to make public comments via Zoom during county commission meetings.

Chair Mike Kelly announced Thursday that the commission would reinstate a rule allowing people to comment virtually during the general public comment period that comes at the start of weekly board meetings. However, public comments at board meetings will still not be livestreamed.

The move partially reverses rules Kelly put in place earlier this year that he said were aimed at making meetings more efficient and respectful, but critics — including some fellow commissioners — say could make it harder for some Johnson Countians to have their voices heard.

Livestreaming is still shut off for public comments

  • Comments made via Zoom will now only be played in person at boar meetings.
  • People watching meetings online will hear nothing during the public comments portion and will see a graphic on their screens until the regular order of business resumes.
  • The public comments section of county meetings will also be omitted from the public record.
  • Those who want to make public comments virtually still need to register in advance — at least 10 minutes before a meeting begins. Here’s the link that goes live before commissioner meetings.

Kelly changed public comment rules at the start of the year

  • Before his first meeting on Jan. 12 as the board’s newly elected chair, Kelly announced that public comments during the board’s meetings would no longer be made virtually or livestreamed.
  • At the time, some residents and fellow commissioners voiced concerns that the changes hampered accessibility.
  • Some argued the restrictions on public comments prevented people who had physical or financial reasons they were unable to attend board meetings in person.

Some commissioners still want comments to be livestreamed

  • Some residents at Thursday’s meeting still disagreed with the public comment rules still in place.
  • District 3 Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara, who has been a vocal opponent of the rules changes, said that the county could opt into a different platform for livestreaming meetings.
  • Kelly has previously cited YouTube, the county’s current platform for livestreaming meetings, as a concern for streaming public comments, because he said the company could flag and remove videos that contain comments that fall under its misinformation policy.

Want more? New JoCo chair Mike Kelly says board will stop streaming public comments