County Council postpones decision on new public comment restriction

The News TribuneMay 13, 2014 

The Pierce County Council postponed Tuesday deciding whether to add a new restriction on public comments during the council’s weekly forum.


The council voted 6-0 to put off the measure indefinitely.

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

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

Ladenburg, who voted for the postponement, said she wants to bring her proposal back to the council when all members are present for “a good discussion.”

Councilman Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, was absent Tuesday recovering from surgery. Councilman Jim McCune, R-Graham, is going on vacation next week. So it’s not clear how soon all council members will be available to meet.

A council committee last month recommended against adding the new restriction. Council Chairman Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, has said he doesn’t support the addition because he believes current rules give the council chairman plenty of discretion in deciding whether to rule someone out of order.

Ladenburg and her family members were targeted by the abusive citizen. She has said his behavior made it clear the council’s rules need to be stronger and more precise.

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

 

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