MARSHFIELD, WI (WSAU) — Mashfield’s Common Council has passed new guidelines restricting the use of electronic devices by officials during city meetings, and city administrator Steve Barg says the new ordinance includes a complete ban on the use of cell phones at those meetings.

“The cell phones must be turned-off prior to meetings,” Barg explained.  “Initially the wording was that they must be put on vibrate, but then there was a motion made to just flat-out turn them off to avoid any disruption.”

Also under the new policy, city employees observing the meetings can’t use an electronic device to communicate about meeting agenda items – which would violate open meeting laws – but they can use devices like their laptops for doing other types of city-related work while the meeting is in progress.

Barg explained that, “City staff in the audience can use their laptops and do work, provided that it’s not in violation of the open meeting law in any way, shape, or form.”

Besides wanting to eliminate possible violations of open meeting statutes, Barg says the new guidelines were prompted by concerns about general distractions and disruptions to city meetings.

That new policy was passed by Marshfield’s Common Council by a vote of 8 to 1, with Jason Zaleski casting the only ‘No’ vote.  Alderperson Rebecca Spiros was absent.


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