Hamilton County Commission bans signs at meetings, weighs in on press gallery access

(Image: WTVC)

Signs are not allowed to be in Hamilton County commission meetings anymore.

Commissioners voted to prohibit them carrying or displaying of signs during the meetings after they say they received complaints.

Commissioners say signs can be distracting while trying to keep order and focusing on what is being discussed.

"Sometimes when you have those distractions, it does take away from the outcome our meeting," said Commission Chairperson Sabrena Smedley on Wednesday.

The resolution passed after a 7-to-2 vote.

On another front, complaints and safety concerns are forcing commissioners to decide who is allowed in the press gallery.

Commissioners voted to table a resolution that would not allow people in their press gallery if they are not a part of the media.

Over the last two months, commissioners say they received complaints about non-media members going up to the press gallery.

That even included an officer removing someone from a meeting.

However, there is not a written policy that clarifies who is able to be in the gallery.

Many have safety concerns, but are not sure of how to properly credential people.

"Could something be going on at a higher elevation that I'm not aware of or not seeing? Well sure. Because I'm not focused on what's going on at the higher level. I'm more concentrated on what's going on at eye level in the chambers," said Chairperson Smedley.

"It is to keep this process as simplicit as possible, but to have a process, a clear process in place," said Commissioner Katherlyn Geter.

The legal committee is assigned to form guidelines and a credential process that must be included in a new resolution.

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