This won’t be the last thing I post regarding Tuesday night’s Glendora council meeting where the city battled against the general employees association.
But I wanted to discuss something unrelated to that matter before we get into the hot debate of the moment.
I have been to my fair share of council meetings. I have been in packed auditoriums in Azusa with 300 people for meetings about Vulcan Materials Co.’s mining proposal. I have used the wi-fi and watched council members (one in particular) roll their eyes at public speakers in Newport Beach.
I have covered various school board meetings and others.
But there is one thing that stands out in Glendora. When they don’t like a public speaker, they don’t hide it.
Most cities, when they get speakers that are highly critical of the council, will often listen, nod their head and move to the next speaker and/or subject. If anything, they may ask a city staffer to make a note to follow up with some facts or clarification.
In Glendora, you saw a different way of handling things.
Ed Brubaker and Mark Smith are speakers at nearly every council meeting. Brubaker in particular, who spoke first Tuesday, is extremely critical and often insults the council and staff. Whether or not Brubaker’s and Smith’s comments have merit is not something I am discussing here.
But some people in the audience were upset about how Mayor Ken Herman responded with sarcastic remarks following both Brubaker and Smith.
After Brubaker, Herman said “Your inaccuracies are really astounding.”
Following Smith’s remarks, Herman said “Birds of a feather.”
The third speaker, Sharon Green (also a common speaker), took issue with Herman’s comments.
The Ralph M. Brown Act, which sets the law for council meetings, has two applicable parts to what transpired Tuesday.
(2) No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not
appearing on the posted agenda, except that members of a legislative
body or its staff may briefly respond to statements made or questions
posed by persons exercising their public testimony rights under
Section 54954.3. In addition, on their own initiative or in response
to questions posed by the public, a member of a legislative body or
its staff may ask a question for clarification, make a brief
announcement, or make a brief report on his or her own activities.
Furthermore, a member of a legislative body, or the body itself,
subject to rules or procedures of the legislative body, may provide a
reference to staff or other resources for factual information,
request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent meeting
concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to place a
matter of business on a future agenda.
(c) The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit
public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services
of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body.
Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection
for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law.
Herman doesn’t appear to have violated any rules, but he would probably be better served just letting speakers he disagrees with go on without him chiming in off the cuff. In all fairness, I think anyone would find it difficult not to speak up when you are publicly attacked every two weeks.