Fluoride Action Network

Early Port Angeles council adjournment still simmering; members at odds over rules, signs

Source: Peninsula Daily News | February 5th, 2016 | By Paul Gottlieb, Senior Staff Writer

Issues that arose as a result of Tuesday’s aborted City Council meeting continued to simmer Thursday — and will likely surface at the council’s regular Feb. 16 session.

Councilman Lee Whetham said he disputes a posted notice banning political signs inside the council chambers and Deputy Mayor Cherie Kidd’s decision to cut short public comment at the end of a meeting dominated by comments on water fluoridation.

Kidd then adjourned the meeting without a vote of the council members.

In an email Thursday to City Manager Dan McKeen and City Attorney Bill Bloor, Whetham said the adjournment appeared contrary to Robert’s Rules of Order.

“It details that a majority vote was needed because we still had business on hand,” Whetham said.

In an email Wednesday to McKeen and Bloor, Whetham said numerous labor attorneys have told him that “signs are a protected First Amendment right, as another form of free speech.”

“As a council, this new policy decision has not been discussed,” he added in the email.

Whetham said Thursday in an interview that he expects to discuss the issues further when the council next meets at 6 p.m. Feb. 16.

Kidd said Tuesday she was adjourning the meeting after a speaker used “personal insults” by invoking “The Four Horsemen” to describe four City Council members who voted Dec. 15 to continue fluoridation for 10 years.

She had cut off other speakers, some before the end of their allotted three minutes.

Bloor said Thursday the City Council is not “legally obligated” to follow Robert’s Rules.

“Under the council rules of procedure, those rules specifically give to the mayor the ability to control and limit and cut off public comments,” Bloor said.

“At that point, when Cherie terminated the public comment, she basically had come to the end of the meeting.

“The only thing left to do was adjourn.”

Kidd said Wednesday that political signs had historically been banned from the council chambers.

After the meeting adjourned, Whetham and council members Sissi Bruch and Michael Merideth — who had opposed fluoridation — stood at the council dais without discussion while Whetham urged speakers to continue making comments, which were not recorded by the city.

Kidd and Councilman Dan Gase, who had voted Dec. 15 to continue fluoridation, left the chambers.

Collins listened

Councilman Brad Collins, who had voted in favor of fluoride, left the dais upon Kidd’s adjournment but said Thursday that he stood with city staff for about 15 minutes and then in the hallway to listen to public comments in chambers.

Mayor Patrick Downie, who was ill and participated from his home by speaker phone, said Thursday his transmission was cut off after the meeting adjourned.

Bloor said Thursday that the four council members who were present did not make the meeting illegal even though the regular meeting had adjourned and they constituted a quorum.

“I believe there was not the intent to be conducting a public meeting,” he said.

Tuesday’s approximately three-hour council session can be seen on YouTube [at] “Clallam Public Eye.”