The agenda for this meeting was light. That did not prevent one commissioner from yelling as she so often does as well as eruptions during public comment. The meeting was presided by Vice Mayor Murvin while Mayor Babb attended by phone as he wasn’t feeling well.
At the outset of the meeting, Murvin as presiding officer made the decision to not allow individuals to yield speaking time during public comment to others. She went on to point out that there is nothing in the ordinances or agenda that says yielding of time to another is guaranteed. The first shouting began when someone attempted to give their 3 minutes of speaking to another after the presiding officer already made clear at the beginning of the meeting that that was not going to be happening.
Again, Vice Mayor Murvin stated, “There is nothing in our ordinances. There is nothing in our Charter that we have to allow and permit that tonight.”
Both Commissioner Gonzalez and Perez chimed in that the yielding of time has not been voted on yet. They incorrectly tried to say Murvin was wrong. Gonzalez went so far as to say Murvin was shutting down the public’s civil rights. Perez then blurted out that Murvin is not Castro.
The city attorney was called on to provide legal analysis. Attorney Weeks stated, “You are correct. There is nothing in the charter. There is nothing in the ordinances that allow for yielding of time to other people in the public.” She went on to say, “I don’t know of any other city that does it (yielding time.)
What was said during public comment is that a few public members didn’t care what the OIG Report of Former Manager Thompson concluded. It seems as though certain people pick and choose which OIG Reports matter. I say either they all matter or none do. They were still fixated on Manager Williamson who long since left and who authorities declined to prosecute. One specific person comes to every meeting to yell, call names, and disparage others during public comment. At last night’s meeting, this is when the outbursts and disruptiveness began. Everyone should take notice of Former Commissioner & Vice Mayor Allie Biggs’s public comment from meeting mark 13:23-16:55.
The vote on Consent Agenda items was approved 4-1 (Perez, No). I was confused as to why as she did not mention a reason. The three items under consent was the minutes from Sept. 25 meeting, a resolution supporting continuation of the county one-cent sales surtax to fund infrastructure, and finally a resolution for commission to get the agenda packetfive business days prior to regular meeting.
ORDINANCE 2023 - 07 (first reading) was the item that would limit commission debate to a specific length of time and also prohibiting yielding time to another speaker (during public comment). What was shocking during the public hearing is that two members of the public mentioned they only know what is going on due to one commissioner asking questions at meetings. One speaker mentioned that Perez breaks everything down so citizens can understand. The woman said, “If you (Perez) don’t speak, we don’t know anything.” To me, this is very sad, pathetic, harmful, counterproductive, and lazy.
I urge the community to get the agenda and packet themselves. It is on the city website prior to each meeting. Individuals should ask staff their own questions. People should not be lazy and avoid getting answers directly from the source. Relying on a specific commissioner’s view, opinion, questions, or feedback is an act of apathy. To truly be an active citizen, one must do their own due diligence and not simply rely on an elected member to spoon feed you their thoughts on a policy, issue, or matter. Don’t rely on a commissioner to do your work for you. The ORDINANCE 2023 - 07 vote was 3-2 with Gonzalez and Perez in dissent.
During commissioner comments is when Perez started yelling again over questions to the city manager. The outburst and screeching continued as she finally addressed the OIG Report on Thompson. She said if Thompson did something wrong, he should attend to the consequences. She took responsibility for brining Thompson in as manager. During Gonzalez’s turn to speak, he took “full responsibility for voting him (Thompson) to be the city manager.” It took Perez and Gonzalez 11 days to publically acknowledge their role in bringing Thompson to Pahokee and installing him as manager. Former Commissioner Bohlen has yet to speak on Thompson’s OIG Report.