Ending Insults from the Oracle of Obscenities

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.

FitzpatFitz 4abrick 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:

  1. Shouting, unruly behavior, distracting conversations, speaking when another person is addressing the Council.
  2. Defamation, intimidation, personal affronts, profanity, or threats of violence.
  3. Booing, hissing, foot stomping, parading, singing or any other misbehavior disrupting a Council meeting.

Enforcement of Code of Conduct

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

—Hugh Glenn

5 comments

  1. Good luck trying to get Mayor “impotent podium” Tait to lead a meeting. I have no idea why he is unable to get and keep control at a council meeting. It will be hard now after two years of anything goes, but I have always been under the impression that as long as it was directed at the others on the council he is fine with it.

  2. The Anaheim Police are looking for photos or video of the alleged assault; if anyone knows anyone who shot the incident, please contact them.

  3. I too am disgusted by the words of Mr. Fitzgerald, and have personally asked him to stop. I am ignored as he ignores everyone. But Mr Glenn, upon what law have you based your new Decorum Policy? The Anaheim City Council has exactly ZERO legal authority to restrict the language or message spoken at the podium. None. They can no more stop someone spewing rage and hate at a Council meeting than they may stop someone shouting it on the public sidewalk in front of City Hall. Your solution will result in a lawsuit against the City, which is why the Mayor continues asking the City Attorney if they can do anything and the City Attorney continues to tell him, “No.” So what part of that is the Mayor’s fault?

    There is one remedy, but you won’t like it. While Fitzgerald is free to say as he pleases at that podium, his speech is protected only to the extent that it is tied to the business of the City Council, and to the extent that he is not making false accusations for the purpose of knowingly harming his targets. But Fitzgerald is NOT protected from the usual consequences of slander and libel that are in place to protect those who are wronged. While the Mayor cannot legally stop the language, and the City Council as a legislative body lacks the authority to stop the language, the targets of his hate, as individual citizens, can easily file civil lawsuits against him, just as any individuals may file suit against those slurring their reputation unfairly. This, of course, puts the burden of legal action on those other than the Mayor, and removes the bludgeon you all love to wield against a man doing nothing wrong in following the law and following the advice of the City Attorney. So instead of trying to goad the Mayor into taking action he has no legal right to take, encourage your buddies on the Council to stand up for themselves and file civil suits against Fitzgerald, giving them the opportunity to shut him up once and for all by showing he is offering false accusations, and clear their good names.

    • Thank you for your comments. My text refers to “suggested additions,” not to a “solution” or a personal “Decorum Policy.” I urged the Anaheim City Council, not the mayor, to adopt a Code of Conduct and amend the Anaheim Municipal Code. I neither goaded the mayor nor asked he act independently. I hope council members initiate civil lawsuits against Mr. Fitzgerald, as you recommended.

      I have no “buddies on the Council,” although I did speak to one member at a public social event on February 22, 2014.

  4. Until Mr. Fitzgerald decides to call Mrs. Tait those names he reserves for other women on the council. Perhaps then the Mayor will realize he holds a gavel in his hand

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