County restriction on public comment gets negative recommendation

The News TribuneApril 28, 2014 

A Pierce County Council committee Monday recommended against adding a new restriction on public comments during the council’s weekly forum.

The Rules and Operations Committee voted 2-1 to move the proposal forward with a “do not pass” recommendation. The full council will consider the measure May 13.

The one-sentence addition reads: “No person shall make personal or slanderous remarks.” What constitutes those types of remarks is left undefined.

Council committees usually forward proposals to the full council with a “do pass” recommendation. Infrequently, they forward an item with no advice or a “do not pass” recommendation.

Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma, proposed the addition after a Tacoma-area man made increasingly abusive comments to the council over several months.

Ladenburg and her family members were targeted by the abusive citizen, and she says his behavior made it clear that the council’s rules need to be stronger and more precise.

Council leaders repeatedly warned the man and gaveled him down numerous times during meetings. Finally, in March, Council Chairman Dan Roach took the unusual step of banning the man from speaking during the council’s citizens’ forum.

Roach, R-Bonney Lake, said he doesn’t support the addition because current rules give the council chairman plenty of discretion in deciding whether to rule someone out of order. And adding the provision won't stop someone who is determined to break the rules, Roach said.



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