Cameron Park Community Services District has an active, small group of critical observers at its monthly meetings.
One frequently brings a protest sign. Another has been known to pound the podium. None rises to the level of “domestic terrorism” as claimed by board member Alan Clarke. Clarke, by the way, once accosted one of our reporters in the men’s room, but we wouldn’t call that domestic terrorism, just incredibly bad manners.
While it is reasonable for the board to limit public forum comments to three minutes, as many agencies do, it is just plain unconstitutional to outlaw signs. And it is completely silly for board members to get up and walk out only because they don’t like somebody’s sign. That is only going to encourage more signs.
For each action item the chairman should call for public comment before the board votes. If the board members wants respect, remember it is a two-way street.
To get anyone to show up for a community services district board meeting other than the press is unusual. The board ought to look for ways to put this energy to use for the district. Instead of arguing with the audience and looking for ways to shut them up, the board members should appoint some to a committee, such as budget oversight or a specific project. Working together instead of battling each other is more productive. The audience members, like the board members, have the best interests of the district at heart.
Calling in a sheriff’s deputy just to monitor the usual cadre of interested audience members is overkill. It’s time to lighten up. And anyone who speaks during the public forum should refrain from cussing and podium pounding and lighten up as well.
The general manager commented, our reporter wrote, that “it was often difficult to weigh the input from community members.” So, if the “input” is so hard to weigh, have a meeting with the audience dissidents. Find out what’s bugging them. Hear them out. Try and reach a modus vivendi on free speech and meeting manners. They are not the enemy. They are district supporters who some on the board have attempted to marginalize.