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Mayor Targets ‘Inappropriate’ Comments During Public Hearings

Mayor Doug Tessitor is pushing to include “standards of decorum” to the city’s public comment forums.

Glendora Mayor Doug Tessitor is no stranger to taking heat during public comments of the city council meetings.

For several months, Ed Brubaker, longtime Glendora resident and consistent public comment speaker at Glendora council meetings, used the public comment forum to accuse the mayor of physically attacking him during a community Gold Line meeting last year.

While Tessitor has denied the claim by apologizing to the public for Brubaker’s “inappropriate remarks,” Tessitor is pursuing the option of restricting “slanderous and inaccurate” comments during public comment forums.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Tessitor requested the council to consider introducing “decorum standards” in the public comment forums of the city’s open meetings.

Tessitor referenced the city of Alhambra’s city council agenda, which enforces “Standards of Decorum,” prohibiting public comment speakers from “making personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks” toward city council members. Those who violate these standards may be removed from the council chambers by the Chief of Police or another law enforcement designee.

“I think that would be important to bring that forward to discuss to see whether or not there is any desire to have similar kinds of restraints to put on our public comments,” said Tessitor.

Under the Brown Act, government cannot “prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body” from public comment opportunities.

Still, Tessitor believes individuals have abused the public comment forum with personal claims not related to city issues.

“Someone comes up and talks about a disagreement about policy, that’s perfectly acceptable and appropriate – no harm no foul,” said Tessitor. “But people who come up and make personal comments and allegations without any substance or verification, that’s not appropriate”

Glendora’s public comment forums allow members of the public to speak on any item of the agenda, or discuss any city issue within a three-minute time frame. According to city policy, public comments may concern "any subsequent item calendared for action or discussion at that meeting or on any matter within the jurisdiction of the Commission."

Tessitor said the public comment periods will still allow the public forums to speak freely on city issues, however comments violating decorum standards would be restricted.

The distinction between appropriate and inappropriate comments would be easy to determine, said Tessitor.

“The distinction has to do with personal, slanderous, inappropriate comments – claims that have to do with personalities and allegations as opposed to substantive issues that have to do with city business,” said Tessitor. “I think those things are pretty easy to determine.”

Similar to Alhambra’s policy, Tessitor said anyone found violating decorum standards will be given a warning. If the problem persists, Tessitor said the person may be removed from the chambers.

The city council will discuss adding the standards to the city’s public comment periods at a future city council meeting to be announced.

Tessitor said the public will have the opportunity to comment on the public comment standards.

gsuburban August 18, 2012 at 12:36 AM
I don't agree on the limitations to the public. The man is entitled to his "3 minutes" and at least he show up, something few local and interested citizens bother to do when they have local issues. The door should swing both ways, odd remarks are just basic and if a Mayor can't handle those "3 minutes" once a month, maybe that Mayor should evaluate his own issue. I've seen many people escorted out of the room for doing less and why? They are fed up with all the limitations the city continues to put the citizens through so they cannot easily cite their grief and concerns going on with the government of the city etc. If the Mayor is successful, we citizens may as well not appear since it will be speculation as to what is or is not "an attack" at the whim of the city council, which by the way, is the entire reason folks go to meetings, to tell council what they are not seeing, fair commentary on past resolutions and general information which are a concern to us citizens. Two way, not one way in the end and those council jobs are a privilege not a guarantee.
gsuburban August 18, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Exactly, so what and who cares if council's panties get wadded up because of one regular who shows up and does the same thing every time. Those guilty of sins will react to folks like this while those who are not will simply shrug it off, like they should in the first place. Life shouldn't be so comfortable for any council that they do as they please including work life issues.
gsuburban August 18, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Perfect !
gsuburban August 18, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Sorry, he has his 3 minutes and they will and should have to simply let him. At least he shows up and makes himself known as something we have could give an opinion of which is why there is public comment time. Maybe more citizens should show up leaving Ed with less speaking opportunity.
gsuburban August 18, 2012 at 12:50 AM
This is limiting or censoring the public which should be avoided. Some citizens don't have public speaking talents but they do have reason to show up and present their concerns. The last thing council needs is censored feedback from the citizens because it would all be hand picked by "those in charge".

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