Thursday, June 14, 2001

Mayor lays down law on speaking


Invitation-only on agenda items

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In a Cincinnati Council meeting from which four people were removed by police, Mayor Charlie Luken laid down a new rule Wednesday for public speakers he hopes will restore “decorum” to oft-times rowdy council sessions.

        As the presiding officer of council, Mr. Luken said he would allow members of the public to speak about council agenda items only if they are invited to do so by a council member. Speakers on nonagenda items still have to wait until the end of the meeting.

Luken
Luken
        “If people had respected the rules of council, we would not have had to act so harshly,” said Mr. Luken.

        Council meetings in recent months have seen dozens of occasions when speakers — often the same ones week after week — have been ordered removed from chambers for shouting, making threats and racist comments or interrupting other speakers.

        Council had been operating under a rule that members of the public could fill out speaker cards and address council about agenda items.

        But Mr. Luken changed that rule Wednesday.

        Wednesday, the police sergeant who handles unruly speakers at council meetings was joined by three uniformed police officers. They had a busy afternoon.

        As Mr. Luken was explaining his rationale for the rules change, he asked police to remove a frequent speaker, Abdul Muhammed Ali, after he began coughing loudly during Mr. Luken's remarks.

        “For coughing?” Mr. Ali shouted, as he was led outside council chambers. “I've had a cold for four days.”

        William Kirkland of the Cincinnati Black United Front was ejected by Mr. Luken after questioning why a representative of the Over-the—Rhine Chamber of Commerce had been allowed to speak to council with the new rule in place.

        “I'll see you out at your house and other council members,” Mr. Kirkland shouted at Mr. Luken. “You are a punk and a coward.”

        Two African-American ministers — Stephen A. Scott and James W. Jones — were ordered removed from council chambers as well, one for shouting from the back of the room and the other for going to the speaker's lectern without having filled out a card.

       



UC considers 10% tuition jump
Arrest made in 1974 killing
Miss this bloom and wait 20 years
Ohio changes testing focus
Proficiency tests eliminated; new school standards adopted
PULFER: Stress test
Truck-car wreck closes I-75
Neglected buildings targeted
Stormwater unit's reporting criticized
Adamowski seen as hot commodity
City development head resigns
Covington bank hit third time in 4 years
Geimans' son lives on through scholarships
Goetta fans get a little goofy
High water strands Queen in Ky.
Horse show merges with Taste of Boone
Ky. legislators defend review of executive regulations
Lawyer faces OxyContin charges
Lebanon OKs rebuilding of South Street, utilities
Mason gets OK for water tower
- Mayor lays down law on speaking
Next Taft principal has Bell as high-tech partner
OxyContin manufacturer 'surprised' by W.Va. suit
Race may beat area records
Repair grants available
School addresses concerns over mold
Scott faces death tonight
Smart-growth dialogue begins
Some Ohio river fish too toxic
This house is a disaster
Wilkinson investors from campus, political circles
Tristate A.M. Report