City Council members agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry
when it comes to their safety and the safety of others who attend
council, board and commission meetings at City Hall.
Under an ordinance the council was expected to adopt Tuesday
night, speakers removed from meetings because of inappropriate
behavior will soon be required to leave the area surrounding City
Hall and not return until three hours after the meeting adjourns.
“I think there is some value in a cooling-off period,” Councilman
Todd Campbell said. “I also think people will think twice about being
as aggressive as they’ve been in the past if they know they’ll be
ejected from the premises for three hours.”
Under the statute, unanimously approved by the council last week,
speakers who become confrontational and are removed must not only
leave the building but also the property on which the meeting is held
as well as adjacent parking lots.
Campbell and Councilman Jef Vander Borght are among those who see
the ordinance as a tool curb the aggressive posture of speakers and
protect the subject of their wrath.
“I think it’s such a small issue, but it has the potential to be a
bigger issue for boards and commissions,” Vander Borght said. “It
gives some peace of mind to someone who is in a meeting, whether it
is a member of a board or committee or a member of the public.”
Said Mayor Stacey Murphy: “It makes sense if someone’s agitated
and irate enough during a meeting that they have to be removed. It
just makes sense to have a cooling-off period.”