Council member (Pat) Pepper asked “for the floor” to speak at the beginning and after each agenda item. The mayor (Carol Benson) obviously refused to call on her. The mayor may “preside” over the meeting, but she is not supposed to keep a council member from speaking. But she did. In contrast, the mayor’s friend Council member (Janie) Edelman was able to talk at length.
When Council member Pepper or (Ericka) Morgan or (Brian) Weber opened their mouths, the mayor said she would remove them from the meeting. I have seen some strange things from this mayor so I researched this. The mayor should be calling on council members even if she disagrees with them – not running roughshod over them. She can’t remove council members from a meeting just for attempting to speak or for disagreeing with her!
Then on May 19th and May 25th, there was news about supposed council member “absences” from council meetings. Everyone should know that the council members were not absent. The Black Diamond council cancelled the meeting on May 19 because the agenda noticed to the public was so completely wrong. They tried to reschedule it for May 25. When the mayor issued the wrong agenda again, the May 25th meeting was cancelled as well.
Could the council update the agenda at the meeting? You would think so, but on May 5, the mayor said she could remove council members from the meeting when a council member tried to amend that night’s agenda. I don’t care what the mayor’s attorney says – that makes absolutely no sense.
So, the council can’t amend the agenda or they get “removed.” I would cancel the meeting too if it had the wrong agenda!
What happened next on June 2? The mayor rushed through another agenda item and called for a vote without recognizing Council member Pepper. As Pepper continued to try to get a chance to speak, the mayor told Council member Pepper she was removed. Council member Morgan tried to call “point of order” to question the ruling, and the mayor ordered Morgan to also leave! They got up and, not surprisingly, after the outrageous words of the mayor, Council member Weber got up also. The three of them left and the meeting was adjourned.
I commend Pepper, Morgan, and Weber for their courage. I hope the mayor will stop this soon. She may not. She may think she has it all figured out and appears to be planning to control both branches of government.
Lee Ann Garcia