Dallas Is Trying to Silence City Hall Gadflies in the Least Effective Way Possible

Categories: City Hall

RaymondCrawford.jpg
Patrick Michels
Raymond Crawford, seasoned veteran of Dallas City Council's open microphone sessions.
Every Wednesday, before and after every Dallas City Council meeting, there is an open mic session. Most of the stuff that comes up is rambling, off-topic, and beyond the scope of a municipal government's authority (e.g. 9/11 conspiracy theories), and council members may or may not pretend to listen. Nevertheless, it is their duty to at least be present.

Last month, the council debated whether to change the rules by restricting speakers to one appearance every 30 days, a pretty clear rebuke to perennial gadflies like Richard Sheridan, who could no doubt wax on for hours unchecked.

There was a lengthy debate over the measure's First Amendment implications. It's perfectly within the city's purview to change the rule (Texas' Open Meetings Act allows a governing body to set limits on the number, frequency and length of speakers), and some (Vonciel Hill, Sheffie Kadane) felt that the 30-day limit was reasonable. Others (Carolyn Davis, Dwaine Caraway) were hesitant to silence anyone. The measure was delayed, then referred to the Quality of Life Committee, where it's scheduled to be discussed on Monday. After that, it's back to the full council for another round of debate. There's really no limit to how long this could go on.

Here's the thing, though. The 30-day rule? It's already in place, not in the City Council's official policy book, which states simply that frequent speakers are moved to the back of the line, but in practice.

Raymond Crawford, who tirelessly lobbied against fracking, said the City Secretary's Office basically never allowed him to sign up to speak more than once per month (once or twice, after a 25-plus day absence, they might have made an exception, he says).

So, he brought friends. "A group of us would kind of rotate around," he says. That way, someone was there to berate the council on fracking at every meeting.

In other words, the City Council is going around in circles to pass a rule that's already in effect. Crawford is puzzled as to why, which is understandable. It's a legitimate thing to be puzzled by.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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33 comments
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@gordonhilgers --- Now I think I understand why the Dallas City Council is doing this.  Your comments here tell me more than I really, really need to know.

LovingPerson
LovingPerson

Hey Eric Nicholson, i know you think you're pretty clever constantly using unorthodox words, but between words like "Godflies" and all the typo's and incomplete sentences, it's getting real hard to follow your stories. If you're not going to proof read your stories, at least use normal words. (yes i know, i'm just not  "smart" enough to you know "clever" words)

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

Only a bullet to the head is going to stop my criticism.  If shut-down in DFW, I will take it long distance and make the old biddies of HP/UP wish they had never been born. 

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

It's not as cute or OT as little bunnies of cute kittie cats, but it's something that will probably be getting a little attention.

Surely, this can be explained away. Surely.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gXKwQI_0kDI

jmckee3
jmckee3

The clear answer is we need an official speaker's corner right out in front of city hall. Build a little platform with the little stop light thingy, they can queue up over and over again as long as they speak for 2 minutes and go to the back of the line. Once a week a city council person will be required to attend for at least two hours, the whole thing will be simulcast on the internet.


This of course is not to supplant public comment at the meetings, just all day entertainment.

schermbeck
schermbeck

They should be having at least one night meeting a month and encouraging public comments. Working folks don't get time off for City Hall appearances.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

The additional screw the new rule is turning is that if you noshow on a signup, they still charge you as having spoken.

The open mike is so poorly attended, unless there is a police shooting, what are they scared of? That they might make a friend? As opposed to the steady stream of grifters, hangerson, and supplicants.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

They could just not meet more than once every 30 days, and it would solve the problem.

James080
James080 topcommenter

A better rule would be limiting council members from speaking more than once each month.

timdickey
timdickey

@LovingPerson  Not to pile on here, but there's no apostrophe in a plural--it should be "typos", not "typo's". OK, so I'm piling on.

leftocenter
leftocenter

@lovingperson

I didn't really see any typos or incomplete sentences and gadflies isn't all that clever.  I did find one particularly egregious split infinitive.

So you just read the stuff for the gramar?

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

First rule of typo policing, police your own first.

"Godflies"?

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

Indeed, I am angry enough and strong enough to go for the throat like a red wolf on steroids--for the United States, idiot-heads.

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

@schermbeck Hey Jim!  Good to see you speaking out in a letter to the editor.  Don't you think it is "nice" they "let her" submit on paper?  Love letters. 

I think the only way for gadflies to deal straight, square-business with the wreck called DFW may end-up being: KILL.  THEM.  ALL. 

Haha!  Like nuclear power, Dallas business establishment?  We are here--to help.  How about: a 300,000 kiloton hydrogen bomb dropped on, say, Irving at three in the morning to kind of serve as a pro-nuclear "wake-up merry sunshine" call? 

That way, there would be no need at all for "cheaper, cleaner energy" skid-row scams like the ones Texas Utilities ran in the Eighties like they were either the conservative version of Pimpadelic or possibly simple, Harry-Hines types of pimps on the curbs, selling real estate.  Why?  No living beings to condition with air. 

I dearly love the air-as-metaphor all the live-long day, don't you, Jim?  I look up at the celestial white rulers of DFW Amerika, and think: Light blue; pink: this is uber-love on crack cocaine.

Just trying to be helpful in regards to "the other side" of "the problem" of "gadflies" in uber-D for all. 

Thanks for the outer space job.  Nice!  Not a city in France. 

James080
James080 topcommenter

@schermbeck  

You assume they care what the public has to say. They don't. 

James080
James080 topcommenter

@everlastingphelps  

If they met bi-annually like the Texas Legislature I believe we would eliminate quite a bit of opportunity for official graft and/or incompetent bungling.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Wouldn't that infringe on the public's right to entertainment?

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Also, "yes i know, i'm just not "smart" enough...." has two instances of "I" which should be capitalized, and a double-space. Otherwise, the sentence is spot-on.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ruddski  

I had just assumed his poor cognitive skills lead him to believe that gadflies was some exotic, 10-dollar term.

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

I think I will dub my "science project" Deconstruct Dallas--with verbalized explosive material much stronger than "hidden" ammonium nitrate in Texas. 

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

Let?  Isn't that an old slang word for "gas"?  I just let one right here on the let-her pages.  It is noxious. 

I am going to have to definitely open up and let the air in--from the Patio. 

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Trolling the alphabet agencies.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

@Montemalone

Just another Texas lege candidate.

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

@RTGolden1 @gordonhilgersIs speaking one's opinion loud-and-proud "trolling" because 1) You do not agree with that opinion? Or 2) Because you are a one-person plastic label maker? 

Killing the messenger without adding to the commentary, buddy, is called: trolling. 

Translation: If you disagree, perhaps you should express "your opinion" to counter "my opinon" and then, if humanly possible, "your opinion" and "my opinion" go through the process of compromise and the best of both opinions are taken as a pragmatic means with which to deal with a problem of "fracked-up greedheads" who, should they really feel the need to "screw the earth", ought to take off their clothes and do it, face down, on a vacant lot of their choice. 

On film.  On pay-per-view.  Showtime.  Closed cage death match with some dirt clods and a hole in the ground: Porno for pyros. 

pak152
pak152

@mavdog @pak152and biennial is the more correct term. 

but thanks for the correction. and no need to shout i'm not deaf or blind

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@pak152

James is correct in his usage of the word "biannually" (other than the unneeded hyphen...)

bi·an·nu·al

 adjective 

1. occurring twice a year; semiannual.

2. occurring every two years; biennial

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/biannual?s=t

good grief....really, you should go check out what you're about to post BEFORE you hit the "Post Comment" button.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@pak152 @James080@everlastingphelps  

How's this:

If they met every other year like the Texas Legislature I believe we would eliminate quite a bit of opportunity for official graft and/or incompetent bungling. 

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