What Do YOU Think About Limiting Free Speech to Allow for More Free Speech at OC County Hall?

“What are you afraid of Chairman Moorlach? Are you afraid of my legitimate comments?” the Westminster resident asked at Tuesday’s meeting, then complained of the limit. “Why not three? Why not one? Why not 10? Why be arbitrary?”

Have you all read Martin Wisckol’s “Buzz” column yet this morning? You just have to. And no, I’m not just saying that because he mentions Chris Norby’s son’s run for OC GOP Central Committee. Nope, there’s another fascinating story that Wisckol tells us.

At last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Board Chair John Moorlach crafted a new rule for members of the public addressing the Supes at weekly meetings. Each person can now address supervisors on no more than seven agenda items for a total of 20 minutes… Then they have to sit down and let everyone else have a chance to speak.      
And while this new rule is supposed to be for everyone, it seems like this rule is tailor made for one Darrell Nolta from Westminster. He’s the only one who attends nearly every meeting and talks at length about nearly every subject.

So what do you think about this new rule that Martin Wisckol is caling “The Darrell Nolta Rule”? Has Moorlach gone too far in limiting free speech at Board meetings? Or is it about time that Darrell Nolta shut up so everyone else who’d like to address the Board finally can? Is this a good way to prevent future Board meetings from being too painfully long for everyone? Or is the Board just trying to muzzle those they consider “troublesome”?

I want to hear what you have to say about “The Darrell Nolta Rule”. Is it unfair to regular citizens who just want to speak to their County Supervisors? Or is it time that one person stop hogging the microphone all the time? Go ahead and have your say. :-)

  12 comments for “What Do YOU Think About Limiting Free Speech to Allow for More Free Speech at OC County Hall?

  1. The Captain
    March 3, 2008 at 8:05 am

    It’s time that Nolta shut up.

  2. Flowerszzz
    March 3, 2008 at 8:41 am

    I dont have a problem with Nolta speaking on an issue that he actually has something to say….but he gets up and wastes everyone’s time on every issue…and adds nothing of value.

  3. William Spurgeon
    March 3, 2008 at 9:12 am

    You have not seen a legislative body screw around with free speech until you have seen Item 11 A. on the March 3 Santa Ana City Council Agenda.

  4. Andrew Davey
    March 3, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Captain & Flowerszzz-

    Yes, I know how annoying Darrell Nolta can be sometimes. I’ve sat in many a Supes’ meeting when he’d literally rise up to talk about EVERY subject on the agenda. So on one hand, I can understand why the Supes agreed to “The Darrell Nolta Rule”.

    But on the other hand, I can also see how this can set a potentially dangerous precedent. After all, one Supervisor’s “irritant” may be our beloved “whistleblower”. Can we be 100% confident that “The Darrell Nolta Rule” won’t eventually lead to actual efforts to stifle free speech at these BoS meetings? I hope the Supes are treading carefully here.

    William-

    And what might that possibly be on the SA Council agenda? Please enlighten us.

  5. Who will vote to kill free speech in Santa Ana
    March 3, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Item 11 A on this evenings Santa Ana Council agenda will shut down free speech and disent.

    “The presiding officer shall have the duty of maintaining order at all times and may direct that any person disturbing the meeting, speaking without permission, violating the councils rules on order and decorum or otherwise acting in a disorderly manner shall be removed from the place of the meeting. No person shall violate the order and decorum of a council meeting, speak without permission or do anything that may interfere with the effective deliberation of the council. Any violation is declared to be a misdemeanor……..
    Any peace office present in chambers shall arrest any person violating this provision…………..”

  6. March 3, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I don’t see how maintaining order is the same as “killing free speech”. Everyone will have the right to speak on issues before the council, in fact they have expanded public comments at the council meetings.

    People should act with decorum and professionalism at these meetings. Getting rid of disruptive folks in no way “kills” free speech.

    In regards to your question, “Who will vote to kill free speech in Santa Ana”, I would venture to guess that the vote on 11A will be 7-0.

  7. Andrew Davey
    March 3, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Who will vote…-

    OK, so how is that exactly “killing free speech”? I guess I can see some potential problems if the presiding officer becomes overzealous. But then again, don’t other concerned residents have a hard time being heard if a few rowdy folks disrupt the entire meeting? I don’t know… This doesn’t seem very clear-cut, kind of like our Nolta dilemma with the OC Board of Supervisors.

  8. THOMAS ANTHONY GORDON
    March 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Sean,

    This is just the start of their attempts to silence their critics.

    Section 412 of the Charter states:
    No citizen shall be denied the right personally, or through counsel, to present grievances at any meeting of the city council, or to offer suggestions for the betterment of city affairs.

    Yet, at the Feb 4 Santa Ana City Council meeting, I submitted a speaker card and was not allowed to speak.

    WHY?

    Miguel Pulido allowed his spokesman to blather on, yet refused to allow me to speak. My card was in on time. I even spoke up and demanded to have my time to speak, but it was denied.

    I sent text messages to Sal, David and Michele, and Vince heard my protest, yet NO ONE demanded that I be allowed to speak.

    This is just the beginning of the end where those who are elected refuse to allow those who have a right to speak to do so.

    If we don’t protect this right, pretty soon we may lose more.

  9. THOMAS ANTHONY GORDON
    March 3, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    “But then again, don’t other concerned residents have a hard time being heard if a few rowdy folks disrupt the entire meeting?”

    Good job Andrew……….

    Lets just shut down the whole damn process then………

    How dare people show up to protest.

    How dare people speak out.

    How dare people challenge the wisdom of these special electeds.

    But you’ll all scream blue murder when you think Bush might find out what books you check out at the library………..Oh, we’re losing our rights.

    Just remember this post…….this is where YOU gave them away.

  10. March 3, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Thomas,

    I agree that you should have been allowed to speak since you turned in a speakers card. However this was rare and you are usually allowed to speak whenever you turn in your card.

    I don’t have a problem with the council trying to control a disruptive audience. I do not believe this measure is going to stop us from speaking, it will only stop us from speaking out of turn or yelling out from the audience.

    Both you and I are guilty of doing this in the past and we were wrong. I think as long as we address the council in a professional manner we will all be fine.

  11. Andrew Davey
    March 3, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Thomas-

    You know very well I’m not against “free speech”. And yes, I agree with Sean that you were wrongfully denied a chance to speak at that last SA Council meeting. But come on, you must admit that it’s a bit of a stretch to call this proposed ordinance “silencing free speech”.

    After all, most other cities already have statutes in place that forbid shouting out from the seats and speaking out of turn. I don’t see how Santa Ana would be “silencing free speech” by doing this as well. You know, there’s a HUGE difference between not being able to check out a library book without the FBI being able to see what one’s reading (Thanks, Mr. Bush!) and shouting from one’s seat at the city council meeting while someone else is trying to speak. Nice try, but not a very good argument. You can still consider me skeptical on this.

  12. THOMAS ANTHONY GORDON
    March 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Andrew and Sean,

    You all both should be well aware of the attempts to squelch free speechin Santa Ana by Mayor Pulido and his council both now and in the past.

    This is yet another attempt to do so.

    Even Mayor Pulido’s little helper, Alex Vega, he of ripping kid and vendors off at Century High School, understood what was going on last night.

    Alex staggered up to me holding a speaker card and stated ” Look, they made a rule to shut you up”

    If Alex Vega gets it, you should get it.

    Rights don’t go away all at once, those who seek to take them away do so slowly and quietly.

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