Juneau City Hall on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Juneau City Hall on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

City adopts new rules to combat Zoom bombing

No notice needed for in-person testimony.

This article has been updated to correct a reference to 24 hours of notice.

People who want to offer public comment on city matters remotely will now need to sign up ahead of time.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly on Monday approved a resolution to that effect via an 8-1 vote that tweaked the city’s rules of procedure. The change follows multiple instances of “Zoom bombing,” in which impromptu testimony offered via the video conferencing service included inappropriate remarks or pornographic material. Under the new rules of procedure, someone who wants to comment in person does not need to notify the city clerk prior to the meeting.

Assembly member Greg Smith was the lone vote against the resolution. Prior to voting against it, Smith explained he understood the reasoning behind the change and felt that some change was needed.

“I don’t think this is the best fit,” Smith said.

[Officials consider ‘Zoom bombing’ ordinance after disruptions]

While he was the only vote against it, Smith was not the only one to voice concerns.

“I will support this, but I have the same concerns that Mr. Smith does,” said Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski.

Assembly member Carole Triem expressed concern that the current system favors people who “know how to play the game” and requiring notice for remote testimony adds another layer of friction to offering public comment.

Assembly member Wade Bryson said he empathizes with wanting to increase public participation, but “sign up or show up” is not an unreasonable requirement — especially in light of additions outlining reasonable accommodations available upon request.

“It’s as easy as a phone call,” Bryson said.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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