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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Uninformed, ill mannered, but passionate

Rules for a reason

Perhaps a couple of concepts are difficult for some City Council visitors to grasp. Let’s review the basics.

First of all, the Council meets to conduct city business in a public venue. Citizen input is sought for help in deciding issues.  The Council does not meet to provide an outlet for disturbed people’s angst.

Next, a meeting must be conducted according to rules if it is to be productive. Some laws also apply. For example, this is why items not on the agenda aren’t discussed; it is against the law. One set of procedural rules is Robert’s Rules of Order. They grant all decision makers a right to address every issue, and insure that the rule of the majority prevails. The Mayor conducts the meeting according to rules of procedure.

Rules and rights 

Note that unwritten rules also apply – or should apply. One example of this is the need for Council members and speakers to be prepared for the meeting. In the case of Council members that takes a lot of time and effort. Visitors can avoid looking foolish by researching an issue – or at least reading the staff study about the issue – as well.

The right to speak is subject to the rules; it’s not an absolute right. Visitors express their opinion about what they want – except agenda items – at the beginning of the meeting. They address agenda items, in turn, when the items are being considered. And, when one speaker is speaking no one else may speak.

What kind of people are they 

Thus it was appalling to listen to people try to interrupt and/or debate the Mayor from the floor. It was irritating to hear speakers address agenda issues by talking about something unrelated. And it was surprising to learn that a consent item pulled for discussion didn’t need to be discussed after all – the Council member said she’d (finally) read the staff study of the issue.

Irrational and uninformed remarks are acceptable, although they waste everyone’s time and mark the speaker as oblivious. Accusations, insults, and other boorish behavior are embarrassments to Costa Mesa. The City of the Arts should be a city of considerate and informed citizens. City Council meetings should not be the venue for churlish, uncultured – and uninformed -- speech.

Grow up or stay home

It’s easy to see that for some of the visitors Tuesday evening the challenge of behaving in an adult and polite manner was too big a challenge. It’s too bad their mothers – or their kindergarten teachers didn't instill manners and respect. Or perhaps they have been told that breaking the rules is OK if it’s for the purpose of getting your way.

Alinsky would have been proud at the meeting, but we think the mothers of around thirty Newport Beach and Costa Mesa agitators would have been embarrassed.

1 comment:

  1. All passion and no plan. When I got to the meeting, and I once liked to witness the civic debate, I observed a vocal minority that was flat out angry and that was fueling emotion driven logic. It was not an event to support public safety. It was an anti city council event. They had Union bosses present. Their signs and subsequent public comments were emotional void of any financial consideration.

    I thought Mayor Righeimer had some good comments and I appreciate him rolling up hi sleeves to work with the police department to commit to figure out a solution to get budgeted cops hired quickly.

    Have a nice day and thank you for your insights