Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman

The OC Register reports some rules of decorum will be applied Anaheim City Council meetings starting this Tuesday:

The recent spate of unruly behavior during council meetings prompted city officials to establish new decorum rules, which start at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Part of democracy is attending a council meeting and decorum is a part of that,” City Councilwoman Gail Eastman said. “I think that the better we can educate our citizens, the more productive meetings we’ll have.”

Pamphlets printed in English and Spanish will be distributed during council meetings, reminding attendees that they may be asked to sit down or leave the room for using “personal, threatening, abusive, slanderous or profane remarks to any member of the Council, staff or general public.”

Those refusing to leave the meeting peacefully or voluntarily may be removed by a police officer and face misdemeanor charges of disruption, according to the City Charter.

The taunts reached a vociferous crescendo May 14, when the Anaheim City Council voted 4-1 to approve a $158 million tax break for the developer of two luxury hotels at the GardenWalk outdoor mall.

Several people shouted over the council’s lengthy debate. Others mimicked council members who they did not agree with.

Good. Those a totally reasonable rules. Filling out speaker cards won’t impede anyone’s right to speak and will obviate the need to people to stand in the aisle waiting for their opportunity. I’d be curious to hear from anyone who believes the rule against being threatening  abusive, profane or slanderous limits their ability to speak their minds?

The big test will be when the odious William Fitzgerald takes to the podium on Tuesday. I doubt he’ll be able to open his mouth for more than 10 seconds without violating the new rules.

What is left unsaid in the OC Register article is the impetus for these rules comes primarily from the often goonish behavior of council audiences members mobilized by UNITE-HERE Local 11, OCCORD, Take Back Anaheim and other progressive pressure groups. I’ve seen it not only at city council meetings but during meetings of the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee. Anyone expressing opinions they support is met with respectful silence, followed by applause; those voicing counter-revolutionary thoughts are treated to rumblings, snickers, laughter and sometimes taunts and jeers.  OCCORD Organizing Director Noel Rodriguez seems to have difficulty governing himself during pubic meetings.

The irony is these groups proclaim themselves advocates of transparency and citizens empowerment,  but the hostile mob mentality they display at public hearings is a disincentive for ordinary citizens to attend council meetings or other public hearings. Most people find it intimidating to speak at a council meeting – and doing so in front of a bunch of people wearing union t-shirts and waving placards and using their 3 minutes to scream at council members only makes the prospect more nerve-wracking.

Kudos to Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman for her initiative to infuse some order and civility into the proceedings, and in so doing make council proceedings more truly open to the public.