The ongoing conflict between some members of the public and the Cameron Park Community Services District (CPCSD) board of directors and staff continues to be a sore spot with every meeting a fresh opportunity for re-opening the wound.
At the Oct. 17 meeting of the board, community critics complained about ongoing efforts to curb their comments.
Resident David Gelber noted that in August, General Manager Mary Cahill had a deputy sheriff at the meeting who spent the evening “playing on his cell phone while leaning against the wall.” At the September meeting, he said Dennis Timoney, who is the chief risk officer with the Special District Risk Management Authority, was there at Cahill’s invitation. ”There was no reason for him to be here according to Timoney’s boss,” said Gelber. “He was drawn into taking sides in a political squabble and is probably sorry he ever got involved. So what do you have for us tonight, Mary?”
Resident Bill Carey also questioned why a sheriff’s deputy was present at the August board meeting. “Didn’t you take your medication that night?” he asked Cahill. He also complained about Timoney being at the previous meeting.”He (Timoney) sat there and debated people in the audience. That’s wrong. There is no way he should have been here.”
Resident Barbara Rogers said Cahill was within her rights to bring in the deputy but called Timoney confrontational and said she planned to go to Timoney’s board and complain. “It was pure bullying,” she said, claiming that some of his statements were libelous. “I won’t be bullied. We deserve an apology from the general manager.”
Resident Paula Springer, on the other hand, asked why members of the audience were going back to an old topic. “Your job is to protect us,” she said to the board. “I’m glad the sheriff was here. I support Timoney being here. I thought he had some good points.”
Gerald Lillpop refuted Springer, claiming that Mr. Timoney’s presence at the meeting was out of line and “(Timoney’s) boss said so.” Stating that Cahill “owes us an apology,” he said he was disgusted the board allowed Timoney to chastise the board’s critics.
Cahill later responded to comments about the deputy by saying he was there to watch the meeting after feelings were expressed by staff, public and board members about safety. “It’s serious and we have to act on their concerns,” she said.
Shiva said she supported Cahill’s action but wasn’t certain what the deputy’s role was and didn’t know why he was there. Board members Greg Stanton and Scott McNeil said they supported the deputy being present for purposes of order. Cahill promised that in the future, the reason for such actions would be made clearer.
Adding fuel to the existing fire were proposals Wednesday night to make revisions to existing policies governing the public’s conduct at board meetings.
A short memo from Cahill outlined several items up for consideration including a ban on profanity at board meetings; defining what constitutes unacceptable language on signs; and a suggestion that “time periods allotted for public comments be moved to the end of the agenda during the next … board meeting whenever the Board has adjourned its previous meeting prior to fully considering all items on its entire agenda.” This would effectively require the public to wait until the wee hours of the night to comment on topics.
In addition the memo recommended that five minutes be allotted to each speaker and a maximum of 20 minutes be allowed for each subject matter.
Instead, board member Sean Tucker suggested adopting the county policy on public testimony which limits individual comments to three minutes with a maximum of 20 minutes allowed per topic.
In response to this proposal, several residents complained that there were too many items on the agenda. Carey noted that, “you talk for an hour about chickens but want to take two minutes away from us.”
After a discussion, members of the board directed staff to come back with a final draft of a policy in which public comments would be limited to three minutes per person per topic. The board vote on this action was 4-1 with President Shiva Frentzen voting no.
A majority of the board also voted to ban all profanity at meetings.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or email@example.com. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.