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Thursday, July 22,2010

City Councilís bad decorum

By Pamela White

Boulder City Council members seem to be confused.

They seem convinced that dealing with the public at their public meetings has become difficult and that new rules are required to keep the hoi polloi from making a mockery of civil government.

In truth, it’s City Council that needs to be regulated. But let’s back up here.

The current call for tighter decorum has its roots in the Feb. 16 council meeting, where local gadfly Seth Brigham got up to speak and stripped down to his boxers. His purpose in getting mostly naked was to protest a proposed nudity ordinance, but he also spoke to individual council members Suzy Ageton and George Karakehian, addressing concerns he had with them.

How did council members respond?

Ken Wilson diddled his microphone, drowning out Brigham’s words. Karakehian motioned to a cop and asked that Brigham be removed. Brigham’s mic was cut, and he was cuffed, hauled away and arrested on suspicion of obstruction and trespassing. The charges were ridiculous, of course, and less than 10 days later, they were dropped.

Stung by the public rebuke that followed Brigham’s arrested, and no doubt frustrated and embarrassed, City Council seems to be trying to come up with a set of rules that would enable them to arrest people for doing what Brigham did — and have the charges stick. Yes, they want to legalize their own actions and make illegal actions like Brigham’s.

“The way the rules are currently structured ... the only way the council would stop someone is if the behavior actually disrupted the meeting,” Tom Carr, the city’s new attorney, told the corporate media.

Do you mean to suggest, Mr. Carr, that City Council members currently cannot have someone arrested merely for being annoying, that a person must actually disrupt the proceedings to be cuffed and dragged away? Heavens! That’s just terrible!

The solution from the city’s perspective is clear. More laws. The more laws there are, the greater the chance that someone will break one of them, justifying an arrest. (Council surely has the perfect man for the job, as Carr is best known for controversies surrounding his terms as city attorney in Seattle, where he was said to be a fan of regulations.)

To that end, the city released last week a draft of proposed “decorum” rules intended, some council members claim, to enable them to have productive “business meetings,” while still taking public comment. The proposed regulations include bans against specific things that Brigham did, i.e., addressing individual council members and taking off one’s clothes, as well as other things, such as shouting, stomping one’s feet and jeering.

But wait! Wasn’t it City Council members who misbehaved at the Feb. 16 meeting? Ken “Diddle” Wilson and George “Book him!” Karakehian were more out of line than Brigham. Brigham’s only transgression was participating in the meeting in a way that irritated some on council. For the city to impose regulations on the public in the wake of that incident is like sending someone else to anger management therapy because you lost your temper.

So to help City Council out, here’s a list of proposed rules City Council members ought to consider imposing on themselves:

All newly elected council members must study the First Amendment before taking office.

Any council member who uses body parts, electronic devices or a combination thereof to block out words they don’t want to hear should be barred fromspeaking at council meetings for six months.

Any council member who has someone arrested on bogus charges must spend 24 hours locked down in Boulder County Jail—and foot the bill for county hospitality.

Any council member who gets on his or her high horse about the public interfering with public meetings must stay after the City Council meeting and write “I am a public servant” 1,000 times with a dry erase marker.

Since it’s unlikely that the city will pass these rules, however, I’ll suggest an alternative. Vote the offenders out of office when they come up for reelection.

We don’t need more regulations in Boulder. We need elected officials who have mastered themselves well enough to serve.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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Shame on you Pamela White. Much of your work is compassionate and I've always admired your dedication to the underdog. However, in this case, the real underdog is the hundreds, no thousands, of regular citizens interested in participating in thier local government process uninterrupted and in an environment of good faith. Seth Brigham brings to the meeting a selfish lust for attention that can pretty much be witnessed in nearly every kindegarten class across America. In this article you have successfully deflected an opportunity to defend your community from the assault of simple minded attention seekers and robbed them of the right to be heard fairly and maturely, encouraging degenerative behavior and discouraging mature behavior.

One part of empathy is the ability to place yourself theoretically in the same position as another whom you've witnessed suffering. You've called upon the Counsil to 'master' itself to the level of immunity against any confrontist action, yet, as the Counsil attempts to master the situation, you scorn its' decision and effort to restore order so that those of good faith may take advantage of our open counsil system. Whatever happened to encouraging the masses to just grow up and behave? Irresponsible reporting and another reason the work of Boulder Weekly will never be considered serious reporting.



"Boulder City Council members seem to be confused." ???
     I don't think they are confused at all. I think they are wondering why a man would show up to a meeting and remove his pants. If he has a problem with the city nudity ordinance...The why doesn't Mr Brigham speak about it in a adult manner? I think hes gone past annoying imo.
     In case we all have forgot being respectful to each other is how its suppose to work. I am sure the members of the "City Council " do not want to sit around and make rules. As we are not in school anymore.
   Freedom of Speech does not include removing your cloths.
     It would appear to me that we use the "Bill of Rights" as a excuse to be nasty. When what we have to say can be done in a respectful way.
I am sure everyone can go into those meetings and address the whole Council. After all if you addressed one and they sided with someone. wont you then say that was unfair?
  Time to grow people and act like the adults we are. To much time wasted fighting.
Maybe its time we all worked together.


Are you a morbidly obese person, or what? You sure to like to harp on people for having bodies. Maybe if you weren't in the shape of a hungry hungry hippo, your stance on the human body would change. I do feel sorry for you. I hope you can read this through that burkha.