Friday, August 8, 2014

Pop Tart Puffery

If your one of those people that thinks the use of the term "Peanut Gallery", is an acceptable term for use in a public meeting setting, we need to have a talk. Particularly, if you find the use of the word Negro offensive.

At a recent Bremerton City Council meeting, the City Clerk, Shannon Corin, used this term in addressing members of the public in attendance.

So I'm asking if the city clerk has the power to address the public, regulate it's behavior, or allowed the use of derogatory language. 

The peanut gallery is a term for cheap seats dating back to the vaudeville period of entertainment. Two types of people were in these seats, the poor, and non whites. That's correct, Shannon used an offensive term to address the public. This is considered common knowledge, the stuff that's taught in history and political sciences classes at the college level.

The latest copy of the council rules and procedures.

"8. The City Clerk: The City Clerk, or duly authorized representative, shall attend all business meetings of the City Council and maintain a permanent journal of its proceedings. All votes shall be recorded by calling the names of each member on a positional rotation basis with Council President’s vote called last." (Pg 10).

"3. Public Recognition: Any member of the public shall have the right to address the Council and the Mayor on issues not on the Agenda. No member of the public shall engage in discussion or comment which a) is obscene, indecent or libelous; b) promotes the sale of products, or services; c) promotes any lottery or contest which offers prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance. It is suggested that questions from the public posed to the Council that cannot be answered at the Council meeting should be put in writing in order to receive a written response from the appropriate party or parties within a reasonable time. Letters addressed to City officials will not be read in Public Recognition unless an exception is granted by Council President based upon exceptional circumstances. Argumentative Rebuttal is not permitted during Public Recognition." (Pg 10).

"2. Courtesy: All speakers, including Council members, during comments, discussion or debate of any issue, shall address their comments to the Council President with courtesy and proper deportment. Comments shall not contain personalities, derogatory remarks or insinuations toward any member of the Council, Staff and Public, but shall be confined to facts that are germane and relevant to the issue." (Pg 8).

Stick with me here, because the last part is very important. This is a legislative body having a meeting with public interaction under Robert's Rules of Order. Nowhere, does it state that a city employee has discretionary powers to address the public, or to regulate their behavior.

Paragraph 8 is rather explicit in the duties of the clerk. She is to sit in attendance and record. 

Paragraph 3 states the manner and language the public will utilize when addressing the council, or mayor. The public has the same standard of conduct, just as the clerk, because they are attending a meeting. There is to be no argumentative conduct, or the use of indecent language.

Finally, there is an explicit paragraph which stresses courtesy to all persons present, with no derogatory remarks.

I conclude that the city clerk has engaged in derogatory conduct, using indecent language, and her actions are clear example of remarks that are not permitted in each article presented. She uses offensive and derogatory language, and did not display the required courtesy.