City Council meeting becomes raucous after Elk Grove Mayor gets POed for people LOLing during Barry Broome presentation

Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly. 

In a word, much of last night's Elk Grove City Council meeting became raucous during and following a presentation by Barry Broome, the executive director of the Great Sacramento Economic Council. Broome gave a 30-minute plus presentation describing the group's mission.

Towards the end of Broome's remarks, several people in the audience chuckled at some of his comments, which Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly took exception to and admonished them. Ly's words stirred a hornet's nest of blowback for the next couple hours of the meeting.

"I have to apologize for the giggling in the back," Ly told Broome (a separate story on Broome's presentation will be posted later today).

With his voice raising over objections from the audience, Ly said "if you want to speak, you'll have an opportunity to speak, but I will not tolerate inappropriate behavior in the council chambers. Giggling and laughing is inappropriate."

Ly's raised voice set the tone for much of the next two hours of the meeting. All of the public remarks regarding his admonishment pushed back on the mayor. 

During public comment on a separate item, Elk Grove resident Kathy Engle said the audience's laughter was understandable given some of Broome's numerous claims. 

"I was disappointed that we had to listen to almost 45 minutes of Barry Broome, and we were admonished for laughing at some of the things because they were pretty funny," Engle said. "You can't control when you laugh at things that are outrageous." 

Another person who irritated the mayor was Elk Grove resident Steve Lee. When Ly would not allow Elk Grove resident Barbara Patterson to yield her three minutes to another speaker, Lee called for a point of order, and the mayor immediately shouted back and called the constituent a "bully."

"If you want to say something, fill a form out, otherwise I am going to interrupt you," Ly shouted at Lee "You've done this before ... you are very rude, you're a bully, and you do this repeatedly."

A review of city council meeting minutes shows no evidence of Ly's claims about Lee interrupting meetings. Lee did soundly criticize the mayor during public comment at a January 2017 city council meeting. 

During his public comments, Lee told the mayor he should have allowed Patterson to participate even if it meant allowing her to yield her three minutes to another person. Lee noted Ms. Patterson may have been uncomfortable speaking before the city council. 

"It looks like we have a little bit of a disconnect between this dais and the citizens," Lee said. 

Directing his comments to the mayor, Lee added, "this is a democracy, this is people coming before their government saying 'we have some issues, we have some problem,' you need to listen to us, and you don't allow that to happen, and you are out of order for doing that."

Following Lee's comments, the mayor asked city clerk Jason Lindgren about rules allowing to give their three minutes to another speaker. Lindgren acknowledged that under Roberts Rules, it is customary, but said the city does not have a policy.

Another speaker during public comment, Elk Grove business owner Matthew Weaver said his professional experience involved appearing before numerous government bodies. Weaver said it was inappropriate for Ly to admonish the audience for laughter and that he created a "visibly hostile environment" for the public.

"I've never seen anybody be yelled at like I have seen today," Weaver told Ly. 

Later in the meeting Elk Grove resident Connie Conley reminded Elk Grove Council Member Steve Detrick that precedent had been set allowing public speakers to yield their three minutes to others for several years. 

"It has been done, you just have to request it ahead of time," Conley said. "You should remember that because you were here." 

This is not the first time Ly has been criticized for unequal treatment of public speakers. In the past, Ly has allowed speakers, notably developers, to go well beyond their three minutes and was criticized last year for what one speaker said was his suppression and bias against women speakers during public comment. 

Conley also reminded the mayor and council members their sworn duty is to serve at the pleasure of constituents, not the other way around.  

"All of you do not have power, you hold power," she said. "You hold power given to you by us, and until you realize that, none of you belong up there."  

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

But "Seattle loves us!"

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