Point Of Order!

An assault on the public in public meetings is getting to be common place and It needs to cease. The responsibility is on Mayor Muoio to run the meetings in an orderly fashion and put an end to this strong arm tactic on members of the public and city staff.  She holds a strong mayor’s position as Mayor and CEO of the city and should be in charge of the meetings and exercise her authority beyond the general public and call for order on commissioners who are taking It upon themselves to beat down public speakers when they disagree with the content of their speech.

What must be understood is, the public approaches the podium, when invited to do so by the mayor, to express their feelings, not yours commissioners! Apparently public sector jobs are not very clear to some commissioners and who they actually work for. In the city’s June 9th CRA Public Meeting, Commissioner Materio called out a private citizen who had just finished his public comment, because she disagreed with his expression. She called the speaker to attention and asked the mayor If she could respond, in the middle of the public comment period. The answer, from the mayor, should have been “no” and for her to wait until the public speakers are finished. Of course, that didn’t happen.

The speaker returned to the podium and Commissioner Materio proceeded to tell the speaker how his comments were wrong and how she does not appreciate him placing blame on the commission. Her colleague, Commissioner Mitchell verbally agreed with her and called the same speaker out by name, reminding him of his criticism of the commission. The speaker tried to defend his comments but was stopped by the mayor, telling him he can’t respond. If the speaker can’t respond, why is It necessary to call them back?  Mayor Muoio sat there and allowed that bully tactic to take place and she is just as wrong for not controlling the meeting, as the two commissioners who were out of line. In Monday’s, June 30th Charter School discussion, Commissioner Mitchell called out a private citizens name, who was sitting in the audience, asking him, did she hear him say something that wasn’t pleasing to her. Completely inappropriate even according to the city’s own problematic  civility and decorum code.

Commissioner Mitchell’s actions were wrong and instead of her apologizing to the mayor for the outburst, she should have apologized to the individual she abused.  The mayor needs to exercise full control over the meetings and impose order on everyone! The mayor and Commissioners have ample time to talk as much as they want and should never, ever interfere with a public speaker, just because they disagree with something said.  They say they don’t comment during public comment but they do, when they hear something they don’ like. Neither the mayor or commissioners have any business responding to a public speakers comment unless It’s on their own time and not the public’s time.

Speakers who are speaking for three minutes under general public comment are interrupted and chastised, based on the content of their speech. Private citizens who are sitting in the audience are also called out and challenged by these elected officials, right from the dais and the mayor is quick to stop the victim from responding to this uninvited and embarrassing hostility. This type of unethical behavior is, not only unbecoming of public officials but has the potential to discourage the general public from participating in their public meetings, for fear of public reprisal.

Public officials should expect ridicule because scrutiny comes with the territory of public office, just as many benefits comes with public office, compliments of the public. Even though there are only two commissioners who have made a habit of  beating down the public and staff that they disagree with, the responsibility falls on the entire dais to speak out against abusive behavior, regardless of who It is.   Point Of Order!