One of Mayor Harry Sidhu’s priorities has been making council meetings operate in a more efficient, productive manner that is respectful of the people’s time, not to mention staff time and resources. During the Tait-Moreno majority era, council meetings turned into fatiguing marathons.
At a previous council meeting, Sidhu tasked staff with developing recommendations to streamline council meetings. Those recommendations are on tonight’s agenda and consist of:
- Eliminating the first councilmembers communications period that follows general public comments.
- Reserving the early public comments period for those pertaining to agenda items, and moving public comments about non-agenda items to the end of the council meeting.
- Requiring speakers to fill out speaker cards and submit them no later than an hour after the council meeting starts.
- Reduce the speaking time on quasi-judicial agenda items (such a land use matters) from 20 to 15 minutes for applicants, from 5 to 3 minutes for members of the public, and reducing the applicant’s rebuttal time from 10 to 5 minutes. Mind you, these changes would not bar the mayor or presiding officer from increasing those time allotments if warranted.
- Adding this language to the council’s procedural rules concerning “Disruption of Meetings”:
“It is the intent of Council that all persons wishing to attend and participate in Council meetings not be deterred from doing so. As such, persons in the audience shall refrain from behavior which will disrupt the public meeting. This will include making loud noises, clapping, booing, hissing or engaging in any other activity in a manner that disturbs, disrupts or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting.”
These are all common sense changes that in now way impede or restrict the public’s right to speak their mins to council members. The latter language is clearly intended to protect the right of individuals to address the council without being subjected to ridicule and harassment by others.
Naturally, that is lost on the primarily progressive gadflies whose lives revolve around Anaheim City Council meetings. These members of what could be called the “Tuesday Night Social Justice Social Club” are going absolutely ape – particularly over asking people in the audience to refrain from disrupting council meetings. They are venting outrage over non-existent restrictions on their freedom of speech and calling into question their ability to read and comprehend plain English.
As alluded to earlier, Jones mistakenly believes Item 29 bars clapping, booing and hissing. It doesn’t. It asks the audience to refrain from behavior – including clapping and hissing – that disrupts or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting. Polite clapping after someone speaks – not an issue. Booing and hissing a speaker with whom one disagrees – that’s disrupting the orderly conduct of a meeting, not to mention interfering with that person’s right to address the council.
Real exemplars of civic virtue.
“Send lawyers, guns and money.” There’s temperate, reasoned public discourse for you.
These folks need to relax. Judging by their comments on social media, one would think they are being censored. That is untrue – and obviously so according to the plain language of the proposed amendment.
The stated intent of the change is that “all persons wishing to attend and participate in Council meetings not be deterred from doing so.” In others words, it is intended to foster increased public participation in council meetings. Why would Wes Jones and other self-appointed voices-of-the-community object to changes designed to increase community participation?
The reality is disruptive behavior from the small number of gadflies who camp in the chamber at every council meeting tends to deter ordinary residents from coming to council to speak their minds. Public speaking can be nerve-wracking enough for most folks without having to worry about being booed by others in the audience. When regular residents decide an issue is important enough to come to a city council meeting and are working up the nerve to speak — it’s understandable that seeing others being booed or hissed will cause them to reconsider and hold their peace.
Is that what Wes Jones and his comrades want?
The proposed language doesn’t target speech. It doesn’t even forbid clapping or booing. It asks that people refrain from disruptive behavior that impedes conducting council meetings in a way that is welcoming to public participation from all viewpoints.
if Jones and his cohorts think they’re being muzzled if they cannot boo and hiss their fellow citizens, and engage in intimidating behavior that deters normal people from coming to council meetings and participating in public comments – what does that say about them? The new language basically just asks people to be polite and follow the Golden Rules – and the response of this gaggle of progressive activists is to scream “censorship!”
These changes in no way restrict the freedom to address this council and speak one’s mind. On the contrary: if successful, they will encourage more participation by ordinary Anaheim residents – who generally do not share the politically-correct, social justice warrior agendas of these gadflies.
Maybe that’s what really worries these gadflies.