UPDATE: The city abruptly reversed this crappy tyrannical decision one week after massive backlash from the citizens and this author.
Mayor Wendy David and Councilman Hal Cole both called the temporary suspension of televising the comments a mistake
Are you aware of the ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court case Times v. Sullivan (1964) which states this, in part:
As Americans we have a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on Public Issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open.
And that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.
South Lake Tahoe City Council to resume televising public comments
The council briefly suspended televising and streaming what are known as public comments on non-agenda items. The comments take place near the beginning of each meeting and allow anyone to raise issues relevant to the city, even if the topics are not on the meeting’s agenda.
At its meeting Tuesday, April 19, council voted unanimously to resume televising and streaming comments on non-agenda items. The council also approved extending the time limit for the comments from 3 to 4 minutes for each speaker, while still allowing the mayor discretion in extending the time limit.
Discussion at the meeting centered around balancing public access to city council meetings through televising the comments with the possibility of someone using the comment period for electioneering or making slanderous comments.
“Your role here today is balancing those competing interests,” said South Lake Tahoe’s city manager Nancy Kerry.Ultimately, the council decided allowing the comments to be televised is the best policy.
“I just think it’s good business,” said council member Tom Davis.
Several people who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting said they supported televising the comments.
“Common decency is the yardstick you should use, I should use,” said South Lake Tahoe resident and former council member Bill Crawford.
He said he couldn’t recall a time during his eight years on city council when anyone got out of control during the comments. He added the city has the mechanisms, mainly a gavel and sergeant-at-arms, to regulate comments if someone does.
“You simply have to use your judgment if someone is not up here to be decent,” Crawford said.
Mayor Wendy David and Councilman Hal Cole both called the temporary suspension of televising the comments a mistake. Cole apologized to the public for the interruption.
The city has televised public comments on non-agenda items from 1998 to 2003 and from 2011 until now.
Under California’s open meeting laws, the council is not allowed to discuss an issue raised during public comments on non-agenda items at length or take action until the issue is placed on an agenda.
The recent action by the City of South Lake Tahoe’s council, to eliminate televising the public comments before the official agenda is commenced, shows utter disregard for the citizens of South Lake Tahoe.
They spend all kinds of money on the websites, communications, etc., and then they knock out one of the most important tools that citizens have for finding out what is really happening in the city.
I guess the city management doesn’t want any criticism of their operations and has decided to cut off any citizens who do criticize their actions or lack of actions
All council people except JoAnn Conner supported this effort. It is getting to feel like we are in some third-rate communist country as these erudite rulers trample over our free speech.
Not to mention, if anybody logs in late to the council meeting, they will get a blank screen and think the website is not operating because there is no sound or picture of the citizens making their non-agendized statements.
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
They are trying to cover-up complaints about the South Lake Tahoe Police being made by citizens calling for the ouster of Chief Brian Uhler. Locals want accountability including a “citizen review board” to review “internal affairs” complaints about wrongful SLTPD conduct like shootings without cause, Stateline sting operations, rampant perjury by police in the courts, editing dash camera videos, etc.
Letter: City council considered ‘dysfunctional’
It is amazing to me how everyone in authority runs for cover on an issue as important as the right of the public to be heard and the community to be allowed to witness those comments.
Remember, it was a previous city council’s decision to relocate the “city hall” and council chambers on the outer boundary of the city, where it is inaccessible to many in the community. To that add our current mayor, who arbitrarily declared that the public’s opinions shall be silenced to the at-home audience. This is an arbitrary change in policy that defies any claim of transparency in our local government. It is obvious she did not concoct this scheme on her own.
This is just one example of why this city council is considered “dysfunctional” by many citizens in this community.
The $100 million Loop Road project could be decided by this same inept bunch if we don’t gather enough signatures to qualify the “Let Tahoe Decide Initiative.” It is time for the voters to take back some of the decision-making by putting the Loop Road decision on the November ballot.
John N. Cefalu
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.