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Council to enforce existing civility guidelines

By Staff | Sep 13, 2016

After a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of civility guidelines regarding public comments during City Council meetings, it was decided Monday night to instead enforce the rules already in place.

Before opening the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting, Mayor Marni Retzer read the three sentence pledge while reminding everyone that, “You have a right to free speech here, just not the right to avoid the consequences.”

Anyone violating the pledge would be escorted out of the chambers. While several people came to the podium and expressed their displeasure with council considering more restrictive guidelines, no one was escorted from the meeting.

“It is not my intention to infringe on anyone’s First Amendment rights, but there is a necessity for respect,” said Councilmember Marilyn Stout. “We have to look at ourselves, too. I think reading the pledge before every meeting is just a reminder that people need to be respectful.”

Others on the dais agreed that reading the pledge was acceptable, but adding restrictions proposed by Stout two weeks ago and again Monday night are unnecessary and a duplication.

“I always take the high road,” said Councilmember Jim Burch. “I always respect the people in front of me even if they are not respectful back. Let the citizens have their say even if they are angry or frustrated.”

Stout was proposing that speakers should not be allowed to single out city employees or council members by name at the podium microphone.

“We need to focus on many other things instead,” said Councilmember Richard Leon. “I’m OK with reading (the pledge) at the meeting, but like I said before, we can be professional by how we respond up here.”