Glendora Mayor Doug Tessitor is no stranger to taking heat during public comments of the city council meetings.
For several months, Ed Brubaker, longtime Glendora resident and consistent public comment speaker at Glendora council meetings, used the public comment forum to accuse the mayor of physically attacking him during a community Gold Line meeting last year.
While Tessitor has denied the claim by apologizing to the public for Brubaker’s “inappropriate remarks,” Tessitor is pursuing the option of restricting “slanderous and inaccurate” comments during public comment forums.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Tessitor requested the council to consider introducing “decorum standards” in the public comment forums of the city’s open meetings.
Tessitor referenced the city of Alhambra’s city council agenda, which enforces “Standards of Decorum,” prohibiting public comment speakers from “making personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks” toward city council members. Those who violate these standards may be removed from the council chambers by the Chief of Police or another law enforcement designee.
“I think that would be important to bring that forward to discuss to see whether or not there is any desire to have similar kinds of restraints to put on our public comments,” said Tessitor.
Under the Brown Act, government cannot “prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body” from public comment opportunities.
Still, Tessitor believes individuals have abused the public comment forum with personal claims not related to city issues.
“Someone comes up and talks about a disagreement about policy, that’s perfectly acceptable and appropriate – no harm no foul,” said Tessitor. “But people who come up and make personal comments and allegations without any substance or verification, that’s not appropriate”
Glendora’s public comment forums allow members of the public to speak on any item of the agenda, or discuss any city issue within a three-minute time frame. According to city policy, public comments may concern "any subsequent item calendared for action or discussion at that meeting or on any matter within the jurisdiction of the Commission."
Tessitor said the public comment periods will still allow the public forums to speak freely on city issues, however comments violating decorum standards would be restricted.
The distinction between appropriate and inappropriate comments would be easy to determine, said Tessitor.
“The distinction has to do with personal, slanderous, inappropriate comments – claims that have to do with personalities and allegations as opposed to substantive issues that have to do with city business,” said Tessitor. “I think those things are pretty easy to determine.”
Similar to Alhambra’s policy, Tessitor said anyone found violating decorum standards will be given a warning. If the problem persists, Tessitor said the person may be removed from the chambers.
The city council will discuss adding the standards to the city’s public comment periods at a future city council meeting to be announced.
Tessitor said the public will have the opportunity to comment on the public comment standards.