Gibson strong arms public comment

July 29, 2013

Julie Tacker newwOPINION By JULIE TACKER

We live in a country where free speech is coveted, but here in “San-Gibson-Obispo County” such freedoms are under fire.

In the wake of the untimely death of Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Paul Teixeira, Vice-Chair, District 2 Supervisor, Bruce Gibson, has stepped up. During his first three meetings Gibson has made comments that appear to be on the path to squelch public comment.

In the past Gibson has often offered advice to his colleagues, suggesting ways public comment could be curtailed. Most notably, this past February after taking a public beating for his long-term affair with his subordinate Legislative Assistant, Cherie Aispuro. Gibson told Supervisor Teixeira, “I think we need to discuss the length of public comment. I think we ought to have a conversation about what we consider relevant public comment … and a discussion about what we need to do about repetitious public comment.”

Teixeira’s response at the next week’s meeting was to ask the public to keep comments clean and respectful saying, “This is a family show.”

Chair Gibson is now requiring that speaker slips, not required by the Brown Act, be turned in to the clerk prior to opening the agenda item one wishes to speak to. While the Board’s written agenda states this procedure, historically it has been the prerogative of the chairman to be flexible, allowing those who arrive during a hearing item to submit a slip while the proceedings are under way, including public comment for items not on the agenda.

Gibson fails to recognize the benefit of allowing free speech is to hear differing points of view. As the “smartest man in the room” Gibson is not easily swayed; seldom considering his colleagues and/or the public’s points of view. To require these slips be turned in ahead of the agenda items consideration, possibly excluding those who may not be inspired to speak until staff presents or listening to other commenters before choosing to speak, also stifles the board’s ability to hear all views.

As an example, Gibson resisted hearing the PG&E Seismic Testing issue as long as he could; it wasn’t agendized until the public outcry reached a level of fervor that couldn’t be ignored. Once brought to an agenda, giving the public an opportunity to make their views known and after hours of testimony from 70-some speakers, it was Gibson who led the board into the slap in the face unanimous denial of the project by the California Coastal Commission.

Technology has advanced allowing the public to watch the board meetings on television, streaming video from home and office computers; while no longer available on KCBX AM Radio the audio is available by Wi-Fi on handheld devices. These technological advances give the public the ability to monitor the pace at which the supervisors meetings are progressing from the comfort of their home and/or remaining productive at work. County staff uses these means to monitor the meetings from their offices allowing them to work as long as possible before being summoned to the board chambers to present or answer questions.

Gibson’s inflexible approach, requiring speaker slips be submitted prior to the agenda item, will require the public to get to the meeting early, forcing people to take time off work to be at the meeting well in advance of their item being taken up by the board.

The speaker slip “Welcomes Your Comments” yet requests members of the public take off their hats, turn off cell phones, speak directly to the Chairman, prohibits slanderous, profane or personal remarks against any individual, print and sign ones name, note the agenda item, the issue and gives the option to leave ones email address and phone number. None of which is required by law or enforceable.

Gibson needs reminding, “A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance. (Government Code 54593.3),” the speaker slip itself is not required by law; it is filled out by members of the public as a courtesy for the clerk to track comments for the meeting minutes only. To require its submittal prior to opening the agenda item may be a policy of the board, but certainly is discretionary and can be overruled by any board members seeking information from the public and should be, recognizing that it is the citizens who are there giving of their time to participate in the complex process that is government.

Gibson will have you believe that this is an effort to streamline the meeting by saving the board’s time. The amount of time saved is immeasurable by comparison to the amount of time it costs those willing to participate; time equals money.

This micromanaging of the agenda only does what Gibson really wants — discourages public comment.

 


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25 Comments

  1. RU4Real says:

    My sage advice for the day: If your spouse CANNOT TRUST YOU, what makes you think the CONSTITUENTS should???

    (2) 10 Total Votes - 6 up - 4 down
  2. Vigilant Citizen says:

    I, along with many others, will be happy when Gibson is out of office. He wields his power as though there are no consequences. He has shown over and over that he has no concern for those he governs.

    (7) 19 Total Votes - 13 up - 6 down
  3. Insight says:

    You can always… give him enough rope… ask him about his new love interest… flash mob… engage in civil disobedience… reveal photos of his newest indiscretion… wish him more plaque… let him cross the street against the red… let him run with scissors… expose his true sexual preference… repeat stories from old school chums… chum the water while he takes a dip in the ocean… tell him it’s blue when it’s really red… recite prim numbers forwards and backwards…

    (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down
  4. Myself says:

    Anytime we can vote this clown out of office will be fine,these people keep forgetting they work for us.

    (22) 48 Total Votes - 35 up - 13 down
    • Willow says:

      Agreed.

      I have no idea why this disingenuous, self-serving egotist is still around. He never should have been re-elected, and he definitely should have been recalled by now.

      The stunt he and Hill pulled by not attending the APCD meeting so as to not have a quorum is pure collusion to defraud the public. These guys need to be hauled off. Where’s the District Attorney? Where’s the Sheriff? Where’s JUSTICE?

      S___ like this goes on ’cause nobody is willing to do anything about it – the reason there’s corruption in government is because the people are corrupt; and laziness, complacency, apathy, denial, …. are all forms of corruption – particularly when there’s things detrimental to society going on, and no one’s doing anything to stop it. The People are so corrupt, they won’t even lift a finger to help themselves. Oh, we may hear some grumblings here and there, but to actually DO SOMETHING? Oh, no way. That’s just too much for brainwashed SHEEPLE to undertake. They’d rather suffer and have something to bitch about than actually DO SOMETHING to make this a better world.

      This has become a nation of whiney sheeple.
      All whine, and no balls to even save one’s self, one’s community, one’s nation, one’s world. Shameful. The people in Gibson’s & Hill’s districts should be ashamed of themselves for keeping them on the taxpayer’s payroll this long.

      The best things about this county have nothing to with the people, but with what God has given us freely. Unfortunately, it’s the people’s representatives that are making it harder and harder to enjoy even that which was given freely to begin with. Just because the weather’s good here, doesn’t mean the people are – it’s still a corrupt county.

      And The People waste their resources (and the fruits of their labor) on the unworthy and the ungrateful.

      Shameful.

      (17) 39 Total Votes - 28 up - 11 down
  5. TaxMeAgain says:

    Liars lie. Cheaters cheat. Haters hate.

    Voters? Well voters should vote.

    (32) 40 Total Votes - 36 up - 4 down

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