The decorum statement read before public comments begin at meetings of the Anaheim City Council serves only as an ineffective speed bump for the spiels of William Fitzpatrick, the perennial gadfly on the rump of Council members. It is important for the Council to maintain a commitment to freedom of speech, but it is as wrong to yell fire in a crowded theater as it is for Fitzpatrick to affront, besmirch, defame, denigrate, insult, intimidate, malign, slander, or smear any attendee or Council members during Council meetings.
Fitzpatrick began his comments on December 23 saying, “There is something seriously wrong with the City of Anaheim.” I agree. But the “something” he identified has nothing to do with his words: “whore, White supremacist, Disneyland bitch, Disney money and treachery, or the absence of a Latino on the Council.” It is the absence of a Code of Conduct and a few needed additions to the Anaheim Municipal Code.
The content of my draft below of suggested additions was taken from documents already adopted by several California municipalities. Fitzgerald needs to understand that his private party is over and the mayor will act instead of react to grossly offensive rants.
Code of Conduct for Members of the Public During Council Meetings
Members of the public shall not engage in any of the following activities during a meeting of the Anaheim City Council:
- Shouting, unruly behavior, distracting conversations, speaking when another person is addressing the Council.
- Defamation, intimidation, personal affronts, profanity, or threats of violence.
- Booing, hissing, foot stomping, parading, singing or any other misbehavior disrupting a Council meeting.
Enforcement of Code of Conduct
- The Code of Conduct would be enforced as follows:
◊ The mayor or presiding officer requests the person in violation to stop the offending activity.
◊ If the violator continues, the mayor or presiding officer warns the violator to cease or be required to leave the meeting.
◊ If the violator continues, the mayor or presiding officer orders the violator to leave the meeting.
◊ If the violator does not leave, the mayor or presiding officer orders a peace officer attending the meeting to remove the violator.
- It is unlawful for any person to resist removal from a Council meeting by a peace officer when enforcing provisions in the Code of Conduct.
- Any violator of the Code of Conduct commits a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the violator is subject to a fine of $500 as provided for in the Anaheim Municipal Code.
Kind words will not thwart the rants of a man lacking common decency and the ability to speak courteously and respectfully during Council meetings. It is time to restore civility full-time, which will require the Oracle of Obscenities spewing his insults elsewhere. The Council should amend the Anaheim Municipal Code and adopt a Code of Conduct. I can’t think of a better first step for the Council to take to begin 2015.