That has happened before concerning the time they were taking presenting the information, but this time it was about content.
Both Richard Lopez and Olga Robles were cut off a few minutes into their talks as they attempted to present information concerning the recent court hearing which threw out the recall petitions and the recall election filed against Douglas Mayor Dr. Michael Gomez.
In letters to Robles and Mike Nava (who petitioned for documents related to the meeting,), City Attorney Juan Pablo Flores wrote ‚ÄúThe Call to the Public portion of the meeting is not an opportunity to personally attack or bash officials or their appointed staff‚Ä-.I do not believe the Council is trying to stifle or muzzle the public speaking portion of the meeting. By overruling the chairperson (Mayor) pursuant to section 2.02.020, they simply tried to get the public to comply with the decorum mandate in the Douglas Municipal; Code‚Ä-
‚ÄúThe alternative to violating Section 2.02.020 I( (9) is for any member of the public that believes a member of the city staff has acted unprofessionally or otherwise inappropriately during his tenure as an employee or as a member of the appointed staff of our fare city to formally address the matter by way of letter directed to the Mayor and Council The march Mayor and Council meeting may not have been the appropriate forum for the sort of personal attacks/complaints them members of the public had against the various staff members. I can only surmise this in light of the decision(s) to countermand the Chair that was taken by the council as it related to the Call to the Public section of the meeting.‚ÄĚ
In the letters, Flores makes note of a section of the Douglas Municipal Code as it relates to meeting conduct or decorum. In 2.02.020, in addition to spelling out the duties of each responsible person, under the subheading ‚ÄúParticipation by Employees and Public‚ÄĚ it states, ‚ÄúCitizens attending meetings shall observe rules of propriety, decorum and good conduct. Any person making personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks, or who becomes boisterous while addressing the Governing Body as determined by the chairperson, many be removed by the a sergeant at arms if directed by the chairman. Unauthorized remarks from the audience such as stamping of feet, clapping, whistling, yells and similar demonstrations shall not be permitted by the Chairman who make direct offenders from the Chambers.‚ÄĚ
The code, in that same section, also allows for appeal by the council members.
In a separate letter to Nava, Flores also pointed out that the Mayor and Council does not have jurisdiction to deal with election related matters election challenges and the court procedure to include testimony which was the basis of the discussions both Robles and Lopez attempted.
It was the first time in recent memory that speakers were cut off based strictly on content.
An ironic part of the meeting occurred at the very beginning when Mayor Dr. Michael Gomez asked for everyone to work together so the city could move forward.
But the city is still idling in neutral bogged down by continuing recall issues.