Editorial: Council should avoid charging unruly residents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2005

While we can appreciate the city council’s interest in charging unruly speakers with disorderly conduct at its meetings, we urge it to refrain from doing so.

The message sent would not be favorable to the council, which in the long run would do more harm than good for its image.

The council will be making some important decisions on the

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Bridge Avenue corridor, the former Farmland site as well as looking at other development options in the future and simply doesn’t need to be mired in lawsuits against residents.

In addition to further damaging its image, the cost to the city &045; and its residents &045; would be prohibitive to accomplishing other worthy projects.

We’ve said it before, but perhaps it bears repeating &045; the council is comprised of local people trying to make the best decisions for all its residents. Sometimes this goes against what individuals deem in their own best interests. Council members see more of the total picture than do its residents and are bound by local, state and federal mandates when trying to make a decision.

Still, we think taking criminal action against unruly residents is wrong, no matter how tempting.

A frank discussion with other cities about how they handle such interruptions &045; we are talking about the sort that includes disrespectful exchanges and name calling &045; would be in order. Clearly posting the rules of speaking at council meetings &045; and consistency in adhering to the guidelines, might help as well.

The council is in a tough spot regarding unruly residents but we urge them to refrain from charging such residents with a crime.