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Council restores public commenting via Zoom
Zoom restrictions lifted
The Ceres City Council agreed to let the public comment at their meetings via the Zoom teleconferencing platform for the first time since being "Zoom bombed" in September 2023.

The public will be once again allowed to provide comment remotely via the Zoom platform during meetings of the Ceres City Council, that body decided last week.

Zoom comments will also be accepted during Ceres Planning Commission meetings.

Since September, the council has banned the public from providing verbal comments through Zoom, an internet streaming service introduced during the COVID pandemic of 2020, after two back-to-back instances of “Zoom bombing.” Two callers pranked the Sept. 25, 2023 council meeting by uttering racist comments. In response, Mayor Javier Lopez immediately shut down both callers and suspected the others who lined up in the cue were waiting to pull a similar prank. He ordered an end to public comments via Zoom due to the lack of decorum. His order was backed by City Attorney Nubia Goldstein due to the “breach of decorum.”

Other cities had experienced similar incidences.

In 2023, Silveira and Councilman James Casey were opposed to shutting down public comment via Zoom but were outvoted by the mayor, and Councilmembers Daniel Martinez and Rosalinda Vierra.

Since September, only public comments submitted to the city clerk via email could be read at the meetings if the person was not physically present.

In April Ceres Vice Mayor Bret Silveira signaled that he wants the public to be able to provide input via Zoom during City Council meetings.

Ceres resident Dave Pratt said he wanted to see a return to the old policy because he is out of town and wants to make a comment.

“If you do start getting bad comments again I guess we could do like you did before,” said Pratt.

Councilman Daniel Martinez said the suspension of comments was “created out of necessity to combat a group of individuals who were spreading hate speech throughout our state. Those few individuals seem to have died down and not be creating as much havoc as they did initially. I personally feel it’s time we open it back up.”

Silveira said he hasn’t heard of the Zoom bombing occurring in other cities recently.

 and appreciated the council’s positive response to his suggestion.

The council voted 5-0 to restore the function.