Charlottesville’s City Council three-ring circus continued on July 17, as Mayor Michael Signer again lost control of the meeting.
This time, citizen-performers addressing Council during the meeting’s “matters by the public” segment, blatantly ignored Signer’s dictate to state their name and address for the record before beginning their remarks.
These long standing rules are codified in Charlottesville’s “Council Meeting Procedures”:
D. Matters by the Public & Public Hearings
Time shall be reserved during each regular City Council meeting for “Matters by the Public”. Public comment shall also be allowed during specific agenda items if a public hearing has been scheduled and designated on the agenda. Members of the public may request one of fifteen (15) speaking slots for the first session of Matters by the Public by e-mail, telephone, or in person with the Clerk by 9:00 a.m. on the day of the meeting. Through this process, ten (10) slots will be allotted by email, telephone, or in person, and five (5) slots will be allotted for individuals who sign up to speak at the City Council Meeting. Individuals who wish to speak during a scheduled public hearing should provide their name and address to the Clerk of Council in accordance with the process established by Council. [emphasis added]
Of 24 individuals who approached the dais to speak under “matters,” only three fully complied with the requirement. The vast majority offered neither identifier.
One of the final citizen-performers, when asked directly to identify herself, stared defiantly at Mayor Signer and seethed, “I’m not giving you my name.”
Local government observers have taken to calling Charlottesville City Council, instead, Charlottesville Silly Clowncil. In an environment where just-about-anything goes—and rules, apparently are for fools,—that moniker works. If the tent fits, Ringmaster Signer, wear it.