At the last council meeting a frequent speaker lectured the council on its failure to comply with Louisiana’s Open Meeting Law (La. R.S. 42.11 et. seq.) He incorrectly stated the requirements of these ordinances.
Nothing in those statutes precludes the Council from limiting comments to 3 minutes at its regular meetings. And nothing precludes limiting comments at administrative work sessions to agenda items.
This individual also incorrectly stated the council violated the Louisiana Constitution. The authority he relied upon reads that “no person shall be denied the right to observe the deliberations of public bodies and examine public documents, except in cases established by law.” Const. Art. 12 sec. 3.
This speaker, who is African-American, then called out council members John Nickelson, Grayson Boucher, and James Flurry, referring to them as “white folks”. He accused these 3 white members of bambozzling the administration and the bamboozling the city. And said they were trying to hold the city hostage. He also slammed Nickelson on his legal acumen.
If the speaker had been white and made statements of this nature directed to the 4 black council members, holy hell would have erupted in the chambers, in the press and in social media. Sadly none of the black council members corrected this speaker.
So why is a black speaker allowed to trash white council members?
The council rules, section 1.11 (h) clearly prohibit such conduct. “The chairman shall maintain order in the conduct of the meetings and shall have the right to limit or terminate any presentation that is profane, discourteous, irrelevant or otherwise.”
As one council member stated, the meetings have virtually become a “spectator sport” by speakers that continually abuse speaking time limits, use insulting and derogatory language directed to the council, and complain of issues not within the council’s jurisdiction. Council meetings have become more of a media circus rather than an orderly legislative session.
Its time, no its way past time, for rules on addressing the council are strictly enforced.
The Shreveport city marshals that are now present at council meetings should remind the audience of the time limits and the nature of comments before the meetings start. Additionally, that speakers are not allowed to ask questions of the council or the administration.
The marshals should advise the audience that non compliance by speakers will result in immediate removal from the chambers. Also, that audience members who direct comments to speakers or the council, jeering, clapping, etc. will result in removal.
Until these actions are taken, the conduct and comments of several who enjoy media attention will continue. And with that, further loss of respect for the council and its members.