Moore, Bond Clash over Council’s Side Conversations at First 2018 Meeting (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore and Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) engaged in oratory fireworks at the first Full Council Meeting of the new term of 2018, on Tuesday, January 02, 2018.
As the newly sworn Council President, Moore sought to remedy a long-standing problem of Councilmembers having side conversations on the floor during the public comment period.
The former Council President for the prior eight years, Ceasar Mitchell, exercised little control over the Council meetings.
The vast majority of current sitting Councilmembers endorsed Alex Wan (former District 6) for Council President, but the voters chose Moore, in a clear rejection of machine politics and in support of Moore’s independent track record.
So now we’re beginning to see how a Council reacts to a Council President whom they largely did not support.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the present writer–APN’s News Editor–had been the second speaker to make public comment, and several Councilmembers were not paying attention.
When the present writer’s two minute public speaking portion expired, Councilwoman Moore allocated an additional forty seconds and asked her colleagues to not have side conversations during public comment.
At the end of the forty seconds, Moore again called upon her colleagues to have some respect and decency for the citizens whose votes the Councilmembers so recently sought.
“Again, Mr. Berry [City Attorney Jeremy Berry] from the left, and whoever is on the right, I had asked that you please not have conversations over the bar while we’re having public comment, or over the bar while we’re having the meeting,” Moore said.
“You can meet people, if you need to, just let the Councilmembers know, and they can meet you outside the anteroom and you can have all the conversation you choose,” Moore said.
After another speaker gave his two minutes, and Councilmembers were still having side conversations, Moore repeated the instruction.
“I would then again ask again, respectfully, to my colleague Mr. Bond, if you all could take your conversation out, it would be great, it would just be nice, we just want to be respectful to the public,” Moore said.
“I am being respectful to the public, but thank you for pointing it out. I don’t think that’s disrespectful to the public. Thank you,” Bond said.
“Again I will ask as President that people not have those conversations over the barrier. If you want to disrespect the ask of me, then that is your choice to do. But I have made that request, and I will continue to make that request,’ Moore said.
“I regret and apologize to the member of the public who has had his time interrupted. But as been [sic] the custom in this chamber, and is part of I guess human activity that people have conversations,” Bond said.
“And I believe when people are being disruptive, they should move their conversations elsewhere and should try at every… attempt to make sure people are acting with discretion,” Bond said.
“But I do believe the citizens of Atlanta elected adults to sit in these seats and I believe the citizens of Atlanta will hold those adults accountable for their actions,” Bond said.
“And I also do believe that adults have the understanding that they can act with discretion,” Bond said.
“I have been elected now five times to this chamber and I believe that I’ve carried myself with dignity, integrity, a sensitivity for the public… and also can handle myself with discretion,” Bond said.
“I appreciate the spirit of what you mention, but I respectfully disagree. I believe that Alice and Julian Bond raised a man, a man that has discretion, a man that has thoughtfulness for the public, has respect for the conduct of this chamber,” Bond said.
“And I respectfully disagree with you that I believe that I can conduct myself in this chamber without disturbing the public or offending any member of the public,” Bond said.
“One of the wisest things I think people can do… is that we have to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. I can talk with colleagues just as easily as I can talk with members of the public or members of the staff, and also listen to the public, I’m very capable of doing that,” Bond said.
“I apologize again to the public because I was acting with discretion. No one from the public noticed my comment from the end of the bar,” Bond said.
“I had my eye on the gentleman who was speaking, and also had my ear attuned to make sure I can listen to him,” Bond said.
“It was you who called me out. So I will apologize to the public. But I would ask that you also apologize. Because this disruption disrupted their time. My behavior did not. And that’s my point of order,” Bond said.
“We’re going to deal with this in decency and in order. And Robert’s Rules of Order pretty much sets out how we would handle something like this,” Moore replied.
“I am the presiding officer. So I can say that I would like for people not to have conversations over the dais. And so, the appropriate thing to do would be for a member to make a motion to override the chair’s decision about speaking over the dais,” Moore said.
“If the majority of the members believes that’s appropriate, and is okay with that, then you override me as the Chair, and you can talk over the dais,” Moore said. “So is there a motion to that effect?”
“So moved,” Bond said.
“Is there a second?” Moore said.
Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12) began to make a comment, but Moore noted that before discussing Bond’s motion there would need to be a second. Then, no one seconded the motion.
“For a lack of a second the motion dies,” Moore said.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2017)
UPDATE 1 and CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that a reference by Ms. Moore to a “Mr. Berry” was to Alfred Berry, a former city council analyst. In fact, the reference was to Jeremy Berry, the new City Attorney.