Civility starts at home

July 24, 2015
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker

OPINION By JULIE TACKER

In his most recent regular Tribune column, political campaign consultant Tom Fulks asks, “Who would take issue with civility?” He points a finger at COLAB and the “the usual assortment of gripers who routinely abuse the public comment period to wage personal wars against anyone they believe victimizes them in one form or another.”

As he repeatedly does, Fulks marginalizes and insults the participants at county public meetings. Perhaps he’s jealous of COLAB Executive Director Mike Brown’s, ability to inspire speakers to study the issues, take time off work and make their way to meeting rooms week after week to speak up and shape decisions.

Fulks’ biweekly column reaches driveways and mailboxes across this county; yet few who support his position on the issues actually attend or participate in these meetings.

Fulks mischaracterizes the recent adoption of a resolution on civil discourse authored by the San Luis Obispo County League of Women Voters (LWV). The LWV commits themselves “to building a civil political community in which each person is respected and spirited public and political debate is aimed at the betterment of San Luis Obispo County and its people and not the disparagement of those with whom we disagree.”

Fulks called it a “symbolic resolution doing nothing more than asking people to be nice and stay on topic when addressing elected bodies.”

Maybe Fulks should have listened to the entire item. Near the end of the board’s discussion, County Counsel Rita Neal explained that the board was “simply to approve a resolution, which essentially supports civility and civil discourse, you aren’t passing an ordinance.

You aren’t changing the law, the First Amendment remains strongly in tact today regardless of your passing this resolution. You’re not requiring each person who walks into the chambers to sign this resolution. Certainly there’s no enforcement mechanism and no consequence; but you’re supporting the awareness and encouragement of civil discourse, you’re not making a law.”

Resolutions are intended to set policy. In my opinion, a resolution is a promise. These promises are broken in the SLO County Board of Supervisors chambers all the time.

As evidenced just two weeks post signing of the civil discourse resolution. The ink barely dry on the document and Mr. Fulks’ Sunday column now lining the bird cage, the board hadn’t gotten through the consent calendar (the first order of business) when Supervisor Gibson lost his cool and raised his voice; scolding his fellow board members who chose to postpone an important water item to allow for more public participation. Any semblance of civil discourse from the District 2 supervisors was out the window.

Citizens from all walks of life enter meeting chambers around this great country every day. Fulks suggests the LWV “felt compelled to intervene” here in San Luis Obispo County, particularly at the Board of Supervisors.

However, a quick search of the LWV website reveals that the study of civil discourse is a statewide mission among the LWV and our county’s chapter is simply participating.
Ironically, where I’ve seen the most egregious display of incivility has been from select board members who sit at the dais. Elected officials, the people we put there, who have wrongly taken it upon themselves to write late night letters to the editor, bark from the dais, and engage a hired political consultant (Fulks) to use his newspaper column to denigrate, marginalize, label, and name-call at speakers they disagree with.

Over my many years of participating at the Board of Supervisors meetings, I can only think of a handful of instances where citizens have been truly “uncivil” but, I’m not a judge and respectfully suggest neither is Fulks. These passionate citizens have the right to express themselves any way they wish. The way they are treated and often antagonized from the dais elevates their delivery to what one might consider “uncivil.” It isn’t much to ask that the board members themselves lead by example and behave civilly.
Civility starts at home, the board signed the resolution put forth by the LWV, let’s see that they, and Fulks, live by it and then watch how the citizens respond in kind.


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ToHellinaHandBasket

You know Julie, I used to read alot of negative things in print/cyberspace about you. And, in fairness, I swallowed all of it hook, line, and sinker. Never saw a picture of you until you began running opinion pieces on CCN. Once a story, now a face with the story.


No matter your political posture, thank you! You’re a breath of fresh air.


And a woman who is independent to boot!


I like your style.


Julie

ToHellinaHandBasket,


Thanks for reading past the rhetoric. Most of what you have read is half truths peppered with opinion. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I am not afraid to attach my name to mine. Thus I continue to write OpEd’s and am grateful to CCN for publishing them. The Trib and New Times are no longer worth submitting to.


No one is forced to read what I write. I appreciate that you do. I hope you learn from what I have to offer, that’s usually my goal, to educate. This particular piece is my opinion, while most of my pieces are well researched and backed with fact and experience. I put myself “out there”, intending to educate those who do/can not attend meetings and go toe-to-toe with their elected officials, as I am willing to do.


I admit, I have become too complacent at Board Of Supervisors meetings and shouldn’t be. I have been interrupted, had my time reduced, had the Sheriff escort me out of the room and actually follow me to the podium in an attempt to intimidate me. But, the worst offender is Oceano CSD; where Jeff and I have had our backgrounds checked with public funds, had the Sheriff called on us, been removed from the meeting room, firefighters harass me for suggesting the FCFA get a quote to contract fire service, interrupted repeatedly (almost every time we go to the podium), been accused of trying to “destroy” the community, had the chairs zip tied together (with public funds) so I couldn’t sit where I choose to in the room, been treated unfairly from other speakers, called a “hemorrhoid” in the press by the GM, had another GM purchase t-shirts that said “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” who handed them out to his half dozen supporters of little old ladies and longtime residents to wear when he had been caught breaking the law. All of this simply because the Board members do not like what we say. If I’m wrong why the big effort to silence me?


“Civil Discourse” is just a buzz phrase right now. My criticism of this exercise in civil discourse is the apparent confusion referring to Robert’s Rules of Order; which is designed for use in ordinary societies (eg. PTA, clubs, Chamber of Commerce) rather than legislative assemblies. It is the most commonly adopted parliamentary authority among societies in the United States. But, when participating in our local government, the California Meeting Law/Ralph M. Brown Act is the standard. Public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State convene to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. The public has the right to be heard.


Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have in your local government. I follow most all the county’s agenda’s and wish I could attend even more meetings to watchdog each agency. I’m in the book.


Thanks again,

Julie


Slowerfaster

‘Civility’ is often an excuse used by idiots against reason.


Just as the agit-prop Faux Noise advertises as ‘fair and balanced’ to continue to spew their fear, hatred, and downright lies under the cover of supposed journalism.

False dichotomies.


Anyone that behaves as a polemicist, and the author here is a BIG one, should expect argument and opposition ..and be willing to debate with facts.

Instead, the retreat into martyrdom is all too unsurprising.


fishing village

I stopped going to the supervisor’s meetings because of the ugly comments, personal attacks non stop from LO. No body cares or notices who ‘use’ to attend the meetings.


SLO_Johnny

Our government cannot function in an environment that becomes overly emotional and poisoned with acrimony. The Board meets to conduct business for the citizens of SLO County. Public meetings must remain civil; not just civility is nice, or just so no one ends up with their feelings bruised. Public meetings must remain civil because civility is necessary to maintaining good order so that the Board can effectively carryout their duties and responsibilities for the citizens. Rules of decorum and debate exist for good reasons.


Board members have no power on their own. The only power they use is borrowed from the citizens of SLO County. They are there to represent all citizens; even those citizens who didn’t vote for them.


mbbizpro

I wonder why Mr. Fulks is entitled to his opinion about the “gripers”? You note that “I am not a judge,” yet it appears that you are making a judgment about Mr. Fulks.


Moderator

We welcome you to submit your own opinion piece to one of the emails on the right sidebar.


Commenters that just want to post personal attacks against the writer will be deleted and the repeated personal attacks from the few, risks your account.


AAADADDYO

speech, even offensive speech should be allowed, that is true freedom of speech .


Moderator

“should” So you with your “anonymous” account want read the anonymous comments that are personal attacks, full stop racism, nazi’s, chemtrails, mental illness, detailed hate and perhaps some spam? Not happening here.


This is not a constitutional issue, the un-moderated internet is wide open and there is plenty of room for the offensive speech you want to read.


MajorityFan

That is funny. Is it April Fools day?


NorCoMod

That is funny? Can you explain how “that is funny” please?


Slowerfaster

Actually, today is ‘National Tequila Day’..


Maybe someone got a head start ?


Paso_Guy

One of your better posts, SF


miles archer

Yawwwwwwn. Julie, get over yourself please.


Fulks has his soapbox and you have yours. He writes an attack piece, you write one back.


I think you BOTH suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.


Next irrelevant opinion ( attack piece) please.


kettle

You imply that the soap boxes are somehow the same (Fulks has his soapbox and you have yours.) not true, not the same. Apples to Oranges.


Please tell us who is getting support from Slo County Democratic Committee?

Please tell us about Julie’s support from Pacific Gas and Electric’s Tom Jones (not)?

Who has the political support from “The McClatchy Company” local branch called the Trib?


Stop trying to personally attack someone with your claim of mental issues “narcissistic personality disorder” when the truth is far more involved and is a ongoing political action.


Kevin Rice

Couldn’t agree more with this one, Julie.