ActsofSedition video: The April 4th, 2012 Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting promised HB residents and pet lovers the opportunity they'd been waiting for several years to speak on a subject they felt deeply about, but when so many people showed-up and wanted to have their voices finally heard, they got a first-hand lesson in how Mayor Joy Cooper does things -her way or the highway- as she decided that after just a handful of speakers, without asking the other commissioners, she had heard quite enough, and on this videotape is heard threatening to toss members of the public out.
As you can see when Local 10's Ross Palombo asked the former president of the Florida League of Cities whether she regretted her own behavior and decorum at a public meeting, temperamental Mayor Cooper remained defiant -as always.
Meanwhile, days afterward, her November mayoral opponent, Comm. Keith London, as well as HB resident (and longtime opponent of puppy mills) and City Commission candidate Michele Lazarow tell Palombo about the perpetual spectacle that is HB City Hall under the wearisome reign of Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew. Uploaded April 11, 2012. http://youtu.be/UNEn1jgTvw4
See my April 12, 2012 post about this at:
For newcomers to the blog, I remind you that this is the same Mayor Cooper who called me a "Nazi" to then-Comm. William "Bill" Julian prior to the start of the continuation of a HB City Commission meeting up on the 2nd floor of City Hall -where there is no TV to record what transpires there- while they were picking out some food on a buffet spread, while I was simply sitting in a chair near the door waiting for things to start, the only citizen present in the entire room. Moments later, in further remarks to Julian, Cooper called Comm. Keith London "a Hitler."
Before he walked into the room and thus wasn't around to hear her say it.
This is who she is, a point that those of you who give campaign funds to her should well understand, since that puts you in the line of fire, too.
My bold emphasis below -
Return to public civility 'imperative,' mayor says
By Andrew Abramson, The Palm Beach Post
May 1, 2011
WEST PALM BEACH — At Lois Frankel's final City Commission meeting last month, the former mayor cut off the microphone while a resident blasted commission candidate Keith James, who was up for election in a runoff the following day.
Frankel and City Attorney Claudia McKenna pointed to the city's civility code, as they often did at heated meetings. It says that "all remarks shall be addressed to the commission as a body and not to any one member or to the audience."
The City Commission voted to reaffirm that rule Monday. And it's not alone in trying to re-instill civility in public meetings.
The Florida League of Cities is trying to get municipalities statewide to follow West Palm Beach's lead and adopt a civility code written by the league, which calls for respect from both the public and the commission.
"We as mayors actually felt it was imperative," said league President Joy Cooper, who is mayor of Hallandale Beach.
"Because of all the things that have gone viral on blogs, the incivility has worked its way down all the way to the grassroots, town hall and centers, recently with the shooting up north," she said, referring to a school board meeting that turned violent in the Panhandle.
But some believe civility codes go too far in restricting residents' rights.
William McCray, the resident who had his microphone shut off by Frankel on several occasions, is a Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy and former West Palm Beach police officer who won a racial discrimination suit against the city and often engaged in heated rhetoric with Frankel, often calling her racist.
"There is no such thing in the Constitution as a civility code," McCray said. "If you read the history from the inception, when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, they cursed each other out, screamed at each other, fought and challenged each other to duel. They were serious about being able to say what they wanted to say, and that's why we have America."
McCray said politicians should be able to take direct criticism.
"If your skin is not thick enough to handle the rhetoric, you should not be in elective office," he said.
James, an attorney who was elected District 4 commissioner despite McCray's criticism, said cities have a right to adopt civility codes.
"Residents of the city are obviously protected by the first amendment, but I think that the line should be drawn with personal attacks," James said.
However, James doesn't necessarily agree with restricting residents from addressing a specific commissioner or the mayor.
"If they have a beef with me and they do it in a matter in which is respectful and professional, and it seems to be related to the business of the city, sure," he said.
Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell also believes "people have a right to criticize us in the role of a city commissioner."
Cooper said the League of Cities never considered a restriction like the one in West Palm Beach's rule.
"If people want to speak their peace, they want to speak their peace," she said. "Just choose your words wisely and don't be accusatory."
Despite West Palm's decision to reaffirm its civility code as is, James said he doubts new Mayor Jeri Muoio and the commission will enforce it as strictly as Frankel .
"It's a new day in the city and I think the new mayor and the new commissioners coming on hopefully will breathe some fresh life and positive energy into the deliberation process," James said.
Different local governments handle the issue different ways.
Lake Worth passed a civility code last month that "bans name-calling, obscenity and shouting" and requires speakers to refrain from using "fighting words which might incite violence."
Palm Beach County already has a decorum code that says "any person making impertinent or slanderous remarks or who becomes boisterous when addressing the commission shall be barred by the presiding officer."
The county will go a step further Tuesday and vote to ban political campaigning during commission meetings. Residents will not be allowed to wear, display or distribute political campaign materials and will be barred from making political comments at the microphone, unless it's in response to a referendum question.
County Administrator Bob Weisman said a county attorney examined recent case law to make sure such a clause would be legal if adopted by the County Commission.
Carmine Priore, the mayor pro tem of Wellington and former League of Cities president, made an initial statewide civility push in 2008. Priore said it was as much about the behavior of commissioners as the public.
"What I saw and found was there were some cases where members within their own city were not carrying out what I would like to see as civil discussion," Priore said.
The same might be said about West Palm Beach, where Frankel and Mitchell for years were vocal enemies who would argue on the dais, occasionally leading to profane outbursts.
Priore thinks civility codes are more than symbolic, and he said he's seen a difference in Wellington since its rule was enacted.
"We've made great strides in that effort," Priore said. "You can truly have differing opinion without being uncivil."