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Public Hearing Procedure and Protocol


Frequently Asked Questions on Public Hearings and Meetings

Please take a few minutes to review our procedure process.  You are welcome to submit comments during one of the open comment periods. Be sure to be well informed, read some of the background documents and add a comment via email.


For Attorneys and Class Action Review: (Need a reminder?) The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

Amendent I was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the first ten amendments that constitute the U.S. Bill of Rights.

A Guide to the US Public Hearing Process


Items on our planning agenda are classified into two categories:
1. Public Hearing items (open to the public) and
2. Proposal Review / Private Meetings
We will in order of applications received review and provide those selected an opportunity to present their brief. Can you give an appropriate reason why you feel the need to ask for our organization to set-up a public hearing?
The hearing is also an opportunity for public testimony and discussion about proper business conduct and protecting consumer standards.
A blue ribbon panel will be formed to consider the proposal before the actual public hearing.
An overseer, Community Commissioner discusses the merits at the Public Hearing and can make a decision at that time or later for more hearings.
At Private Meetings, items that were not decided on at the Public Hearing are brought back for more discussion or an action decision or referral.
Items for Futher Review:
A public representative or legal authority may ask for a site visit to observe how an entity conducts business if the Commissioners decide they need to see the operation in order to make a decision on a complex or unusual public hearing process.
A choice to delay or change the public hearing date (or announce plans to re-open the hearing at a later public meeting) may happen because the Community Board or a local group or elected official has not had a chance to vote on or peer review the presentation and needs extra time.
A vote to postpone a decision on an application can happen because the motion to approve or deny did not carry. At least six of the eleven Commissioners must vote for or against an application in order to approve or deny it.
Basic Courtesy during the Hearing 
We ask members of the public to be courteous to the Commissioners, staff and speakers during the public hearing. Please do not interrupt the Commissioners' discussion or public testimony.
Eating and drinking are not permitted in a live hearing room, and conversations should not take place during hearings because they are recorded and often 'air' to a broad range live audience.
Please turn off beepers and cellular phones in the hearing room. Business attire is appropriate for public hearings.
How long should I speak?
You may take as much time as you need to explain your situation, but you should prepare an organized and concise presentation. Most presentations range from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the complexity of the complaint.
After you have finished speaking, the Chairman will ask the Commissioners if they have any questions about your presentation.  If this is a live in-audience presentation, please remain at the head of the table or remain on the line while you respond to any questions so that the microphone can pick up your answers.
TIP: You may wish to watch a public hearing before your own hearing date so that you can see other applicant's presentations, and know what kind of questions to expect.
How to Promote Your Public Hearing
There are a number of great ways to get the word out about your concern and the more people you inform, the more will tune-in.  Here are just a few of the ways to spread the word.
 Online Ads (Adsense, website specific banner ads)
 Related web comment / newspaper letter to editor.
 Content marketing (blogging/podcasting/video)
 Mobile Apps, ad classifieds, local radio/tv stations
 Public Speaking - chamber of commerce, etc
 Email Mass Blast (community or private lists)
 Social media marketing / Twitter to journalists, etc
 Word of mouth (telephone and talk to key players)
 Links from/to other sites to your Public Hearing
 Newspaper advertising (local or national)
 Post fliers (coffee shops, colleges, street lamp etc)

Learn all about Public Hearing


What is a US Public Hearing?
A US Public Hearing provides an opportunity for applicants to present to the public or selected representatives a complaint, idea or proposal to a Selected Community Commission (SCC) and to explain why they believe their situation is worthy of appropriate attention. The hearing is also an opportunity for public testimony and discussion about the experience or remedy needed at hand.
A select panel of up to eleven public officials or civic leaders or acting Commissioners will meet to discuss the proceedings immediately after the hearing, and either makes a referral or gives an opinion at that time or at a later public meeting.
Why do we hold public hearings online? We hear from hundreds of people who have a grevience and wish to make a statement about it to industry regulators, key public officials or the public in general. Holding Public Hearings online is a wonderful way for to give your voice added emphasis and wider exposure via our platform.
How does your staff maintain fairness?
Our professional volunteers and staff uses rules and standards developed by our Community Commission to fairly determine whether propoals given to us are appropriate for a public hearing by our organization. Remaining applications must be reviewed by the panel of Commissioners at a public hearing because the work does not qualify for a staff-level decision.
When will my hearing take place?
Once we receive your application, staff members assigned to review your request verifies that it is complete and that a hearing is necessary, your application will be scheduled for a hearing.
A staff person will call you and tell you the time and date of the hearing. You should be prepared to wait one week up to two months before your application is reviewed at a public hearing.
Public hearing items must be advertised online or in print publications for ten days prior to the hearing and are also referred to relevent bodies such as industry associations, regulators, unions, trade groups or local authorities for their review. You can help speed the process by ensuring that you file your PH application as soon as possible.
Where do hearings take place?
Hearings are held typically onine via Google's Hangout app or by teleconference.  They can be held live in a facility such as a community room or audience space such as theater or auditorium.
When are hearings held?
Online public hearings and meetings take place two to three times a week, starting Tuesdays; the hearings begin at 9:00 AM EST and continue throughout the day, usually until about 6 PM. Hearing dates are posted on various Websites or advertised in Legal Record newspapers for at least ten business days before the first hearing.
What if I need assistance to attend a hearing? If you need a sign-language translator or other reasonable accommodation to attend or to participate in a public hearing or public meeting, you should call or write us no later than five business days before the meeting. 


Other Input / Public Testimony
After your presentation, the Chairman will ask if any members of the public would like to speak about your application. At this time, elected officials, community groups, and any other interested individuals may comment on your statements. Testimony is usually limited to three minutes per speaker. We invite petitions as well.
The Chairman may also note received letters or written statements or emails about the proposal; sometimes the Chairman will read these letters aloud.  Media may also ask questions if invited.
When all of the public testimony is completed, the Chairman will ask you if you wish to respond to any of the points that were made. To prepare for this, you should pay close attention to and possibly take notes of the testimony. Do not interrupt a speaker. You should wait until all of the testimony is completed before you respond.
LIVE TIP: Always speak loud and clearly. Please identify yourself (give your name) so that your computer microphone can pick up your words.
Do I need an attorney or any professional representative to explain my application?
You are not required to hire professionals to represent you or to appear with you during the hearing, however, it is your choice to have legal representation. For simple applications, you may wish to explain your situation yourself. For more complex procedures, however, it is often a good idea to have other voices, collaborators, lawyers, or managing agent help present along with you.
Do I need to be at the hearing?
Depending on what you are presenting, you may not need to make a statement at the hearing if you do not wish to do so. However, for several reasons, we recommend that you have your say and attend the hearing. When you are present, you ensure that your representatives explain your position accurately. The Commissioners may ask questions that only you can answer.
The Commissioners may suggest changes to your proposal or refer it to a legal authority during the hearing; if you are present, you can authorize those changes immediately. By your listening to the testimony and Commissioners' comments, you will have a much more accurate understanding of the reaction to your case than if your representative summarized it for you.
NOTE: If you have changed your proposal in any way, you must inform your PH staff member of these revisions before your public hearing.
What items can I use for my presentation? 
It depends on the type of situation you are addressing and proposing to present. Your staff member will tell you what materials will best explain your proposal to the Commissioners.
Usually you will need to show photographs of the project site, as well as any drawings, material samples, color samples, and/or other materials that will help describe your project.
Mount all copied evidence; emails, webpages, posts, photos, graphs and drawings on boards so that the moderator panel and audience can see them clearly. You must give your complete presentation materials to your staff member at least a month before the hearing so that he or she can review them.
Include all pertinent information in your oral presentation since the Commissioners will not have an opportunity to read or evaluate written materials during the actual hearing. Any written materials or slides submitted at the hearing will be distributed and reviewed after the hearing.
How should I present myself publically?
First, at live events walk to the head of the table and introduce yourself for the record. Speak loudly and clearly since most often hearings are recorded. Describe your situation and explain why you are proposing to the commissioners. Focus your remarks on the effect of the situation and/or on impacts (damages, loss, injury, etc). 
Present a strong case for why you believe your case is appropriate for using US Public Hearing. 
Make a persuasive case for the appropriateness of your presentation. Work with staff member(s) beforehand to decide what information is best to include in your presentation.  
You may read your Public Hearing statement or speak informally. Your presentation should be business-like in tone; argumentative or overly emotional presentations are much less effective.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that your and your representative's statements are truthful and accurate. Misrepresentations (such as saying that a contract has not started yet, when it has) can hurt your reputation and cause regulatory fines.
Commission Discussion
The Chairman will next ask the Commissioners if they have any additional questions for you or your representatives. This could be your final opportunity to comment on your situation. 
You should address the specific concerns raised by the Commissioners and summarize your strongest arguments for what is appropriate.
You may be asked to provide additional information during this discussion. Otherwise, please do not interrupt the discussion.
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