Letter to the editor: Conduct at city council meetings

Editor:

Laughing at speakers during council meetings is inappropriate, in my opinion. To be clear, I am speaking for myself as one of seven councilmembers.

Staff members and council were repeatedly distracted by loud and mocking laughter from the audience at Tuesday’s meeting. Which is why I made the “peanut gallery” comment from the dais when I was personally distracted by disruptive behavior in the middle of a comment I was making.

I have been told that some staff members choose to make loud and snide comments about councilmembers from the audience during meetings, too. I’m hoping that this unprofessional behavior will stop under the new administration, because it is clearly setting a bad example.

I think that everyone should treat others the way that they want to be treated. I know that a lot of people are excited about the recent election. My hope is that things will calm down soon. Audience comments are an appropriate way for everyone to publicly address their opinions on council business, as well as emails and letters to the editor.

My desire is that we retain decorum in the City of Edmonds. This isn’t Congress, we aren’t threatening to “throw down” with our political rivals at taxpayer-funded meetings. We can hopefully treat each other with courtesy, even when we disagree.

Future generations of citizens are watching us, and we should be mindful of how we treat each other in public forums like council meetings.

Regards,

Councilmember Jenna Nand, Pos. No. 7

  1. I can agree it is hard to get anything done if there is to much disruption. Respect is earned not given. Bias surveys by staff false of misleading information provided by staff council chatting while a citizen is giving their comments citizens being cut off right at 3 minutes and not allowed to finish their sentence council calling citizens the peanut gallery bickering by the mayor from the dias are all things that don’t build trust from the citizens. Directors are well paid they aren’t doing the job because of some moral calling they should not be above scrutiny. Yes the citizens need to also act in a respectful way but a occasional chuckle or boo from what they hear is to be expected that said it isn’t a party you showed up for a reason to listen to speak on your topic not to sit in the back and giggle and chat it up with your friends and causing continued disruption. Kind of think I need to come down with a bag of peanuts and popcorn for eating purposes of course.

  2. Future Generations are not watching you. Just do your job. The current administration left a financial mess and it needs to be cleaned up. You will be judged as part of the solution or a continual part of the problem. It’s not rocket science.

    1. Yes, they are. A sitting senator just tried to brawl with a Teamster at a Senate hearing. We have not experienced violence and a lack of decorum like this since just before the start of the Civil War, with the caning of Senator Sumner.

      Children are watching us and, as this behavior becomes normalized in our society, disreputable behavior will become common place in public life. I refuse to accede to barbarism in government.

  3. Hum. I watch on Zoom. Maybe it is my computer, but I don’t hear this laugher and chatting in the audience and if I did, I too would be wondering. That I would not tolerate if I were on CC or the Mayor. I would post a sign and make it clear that if the audience acts like this they will be told to leave. When people sit quietly and listen and are allowed to speak at the podium then they can say what they want. 3 minutes isn’t long, but neither are CC meetings. Jenna is right this isn’t congress it doesn’t go on all day, and it does not have time for filibuster behavior from audience or CC staff. City staff members should know better, and they too should be asked to leave if they behave that way and perhaps warned that their jobs could be at stake if they act in unprofessional ways anytime. I am a no-nonsense kind of gal. I don’t see our CC saying anything to the audience? The past CC was often disruptive, filibuster behavior and cruelty to its own CC members. I saw it ALL. This CC has not done that. I doubt the new CC members will either. Manner’s people. It will get you all a lot farther with Citizens and CC than disrespectful behavior.

    1. Deborah, you are truly a joy to have it every council meeting that you participate in, electronically or in person. Thank you for your insightful comments.

      1. You are welcome, Jenna Nand and Thank you for your comment. You know Jenna regardless of where I live in Edmonds, I truly do love all of Edmonds. If I object to something wanted it is normally for fiscal reasons as they affect everyone in one way or another. I hate the fighting and the constant one upmanship. That is never my intent. I know it is hard for people to believe that a Centrist actually exists ha. But for me it is true. I am from a time when hippies tried to rule. I was one of them ha. I loved it. But through years of watching and realizing somethings must have compromise I changed and found myself voting for people not parties. I do that in Edmonds. I do that in our state and our country at election time. I do it every day in every way. Its time consuming but I spend hours talking with companies, and customer service people all over our country and our world. We have lengthy discussions, and they compliment me and thank me and take notes and pass it up. I am nice to all of them, and I suggest not demand. It works it can work here in our city too. You are a very nice person Jenna. I thank you for your time and service.

        1. I completely agree, Debra, your comments are truly a breath of fresh air amidst all of the partisan hatred that gets flung at me every day. Thank you for your thoughtful participation and your persistent optimism against all of the gloom and doom.

          I am a moderate Democrat, and I refuse to be bullied by the Far Right or the Far Left that have hijacked both parties with their extreme agendas. I want to do what is good for all of Edmonds, not just a specific constituency. This is not a competition, we have to be able to live together in a functional society.

        2. Although I have had some fundamental disagreements on some policy with councilmember Nand I truly respect and have high regard for her commitment to represent all the citizens of Edmonds, instead of a partisan or extremist constituency on either the right or the left.

        3. Thank you, Brian. Healthy debate is vital to our political process. When we reach the point that we can no longer listen to each other respectfully, our democracy is in trouble.

  4. Jenna, you need to learn that you can’t and shouldn’t try to defend the indefensible. For someone who is lecturing to us all about “hatred”, on one hand, it’s a just a little hypocritical to refer to people who may just be disagreeing with you about something, as commenting from the ” Peanut Gallery.” That was an ill advised comment that may not have been hateful, but it was definitely disrespectful and certainly meant as a put down of a group of citizens. Your proper approach would have been to do a point of order to the moderator of the meeting to ask for decorum in the room, if you felt you were being disrespected by the audience. Calling the audience a demeaning or derogatory name was not appropriate and not a good approach to winning over future voters which you will need to do. Accusing people who disagree with you, or certain staff members, of “hate” is a little over the top too, IMO.

    1. Clint, I am not sure if you were there, but the mood in the room on Tuesday night was extremely ugly, and I was getting significant looks from many people in the crowd whom I respect as the night wore on. Including some of our incoming elected officials. Many other audience members were apparently upset with the loud, disruptive laughter and comments emanating from one corner of the room throughout the meeting, which lasted for hours.

      I am not the chair of the council meeting, that is supposed to be the mayor’s job, and I would not have made a motion to ask the chair to scold audience members for disruptive conduct unless someone was actually being threatened. Mayor Pro Tem Tibbott was doing the best that he could under the circumstances, in my opinion.

      But I have been attending council meetings ever since I decided to run for council in 2018, and this Tuesday night’s council meeting was the worst I could ever remember witnessing, either as an audience member or as a council member, in terms of audience conduct. I sincerely hope that this sort of blatantly disrespectful behavior does not become the new normal.

      1. Jenna I am going to change my tune a little to believe your statement that the looks and felt sentiment was the worse you have felt is saying something. I wasn’t there and I did watch on tv but like Deborah said I couldn’t hear it. And because there is nothing that puts me to sleep better than government proceedings, I didn’t hear your remark. I can appreciate your principal but you have to understand the people that pay for this have been bamboozled. Just maybe your frustrations were the same as the citizenss, It doesn’t justify the remark, leave that to the peanut gallery. It is their job.
        As far as I know disruption as long as it is non violent is permitted public discourse. Number one on the list of rights the citizens have. Happy holidays I hope you can understand us. Because you can’t serve us if you can’t understand us. Like I have often heard your not wrong but. I sure hope someday I am right. Like myself, you and all people we are a work in progress. I found humility helps. Chuckling/laffter, Believe me If you can’t laff at yourself in retrospect. You arnt finding your voice. Sincerely the peanut gallery.

  5. First, disrespectful behavior which disrupts a public meeting is unacceptable. the moderator whether that be the mayor, or the mayor pro temp needs to take charge. Now also, disrespectful behavior whether that be from the mayor council members, or city directors is also unacceptable. Further, if this disrespectful behavior from the mayor council members or the directors involves marginalizing citizen input through deceptive or manipulative behaviors is also unacceptable. There has been a history the last few years of such unacceptable behaviors on the part of some council members, the mayor, and some staff. Local citizens of tired of it. I guess it’s just easier for city leaders to gaslight then accepting responsibility. FYI there’s a reason why there’s going to be a new mayor next year.

    The city finds itself on the path of bankruptcy according to council member Chen a financial professional. The council and the administration seem impotent to coming up with reasonable solutions which is frustrating. Even if inappropriate, I suspect people were laughing at the meeting in exasperation because discussion was nonsense. It’s pretty clear that city leaders are in over their head. Still dithering with the Landmark 99 project is a perfect example of this since it makes absolutely no financial sense. Absolutely clueless.

  6. I agree with Mr. Giles the City is in a mess, people are FED UP with this Administration AND Council. The meetings are at times laughable. I tried years ago to watch (my son thought they were funny how they cut people off and bicker back and forth, said you have to watch) I made it maybe 5 min and have never watched since. However, i have had lots of interaction with the Administration and Council over their creative and unfair Storm Water billings. To no avail, so I’ve never been impressed with either. Judging from mess City is in now and its lack of accepting the reality of it attitude, certainly makes for people to be very fed up and showing their frustrations however they can. I hope new Mayor will clean house and be able to get City back to responsible, respectful operations.

    1. I’m sure the children in high school would be better behaved than some of the conduct that we saw on Tuesday night. Certainly, no members of our city’s Youth Commission, who are all high school students, have ever behaved like this at an Edmonds City Council meeting. I assume that their parents raise them to have manners in public.

  7. As long as we have Mayors, City Council Members, Staffs and, worst of all City Attorneys who don’t even know for sure what State Municipal Code’s require; nothing will ever improve. We’ve reached a new low of accusing each other of hatred and disrespect when we don’t get our way on one thing or another. All I know for sure; it is going to become very expensive in taxation and utilities payments to keep living in such an ill run city. I hope Mayor Rosen can make things better, but I suspect that only a total systemic change to a system of city management more like Shoreline or Terrace would be the real answer to many of our problems. Nothing will ever be perfect or acceptable in everyone’s eye and neither Mike Nelson or the City Council were responsible for the adverse affects of sudden high inflation rates after years of low interest rates designed to encourage consumption and fight the pandemic.

  8. I disagree Mr. Clinton, in my 51 years here i’ve seen the City run effectively and efficiently over the years, just have to have the right people with the right smarts & knowhow to deal with the normal and constant ups and downs that comes and goes. That is not going to change, its life. We as individuals have to deal with it daily too, the City doesn’t get a pass. Currently they just hit our pockets and that has to stop. Takes smart and competent people, no matter position to accomplish.

  9. First off Ms. Jean (Clinton is my first name, not my last, thank you), I’ve also lived here off and on for well over 50 years and I’ve seen a lot of nonsense from those “right people with the right smarts”, like sanctioning attempts to build skyscrapers on the beach and emergency connectors to the waterfront that would have probably destroyed the town small business economy and ambiance of the town while breaking the public treasury. It’ s been bad, short sighted, form over function government here as long as I can remember. The last really smart group of town leaders were the group that initiated and followed thru with the small boat harbor way back in the late 40’s; long before I got here. Unfortunately it’s almost always been public outcry and frustration that has brought back some degree of common sense to many governmental actions here. That said, I very much respect you and agree with much of what you have said.

  10. I agree, I think it’s wrong to laugh at people at meetings. Taxpayer money is being wasted by audience delays.

      1. Jenna or anyone, when did this interruption occur during Tuesday’s Council meeting (Nov. 21)? I left the meeting at 8:00 without observing any problem. The only sounds from the audience were us repeating the Pledge of Allegiance and later applauding Councilmember Teitzel during Council celebration of his service.

        I have played the video for the rest of the meeting, the part after I left, and didn’t see or detect any interruption on the video. If we’re discussing a real problem, someone needs to identify where on the video we can observe it~ the time stamp please. Otherwise I’m beginning to think this is much ado about nothing.

        1. Roger — I was there until 10:30 p.m. and I heard it (the snickers and laughter) at several points during the meeting. (Adding this clarification — The meeting was not delayed as a result of any remarks) — Teresa
          P.S. I’m closing this thread now.

  11. Clinton, SO sorry didn’t realize mistake till after I sent and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Was hoping it wouldn’t bother you like it does when people refer to me as “miss jean” and I know its just maybe normal for their area. Anyway an oversight, i should have paid more attention. Sorry.

  12. No problem, Jean. It’s just that I get myself into enough trouble thinking out loud in print, without anyone believing that I might be the shirt tail relative of one of our more controversial past Presidents. I assure you, my taking offense was mostly, if not all, in jest and I really don’t take myself or what I say here all that seriously. (Can’t believe Teresa hasn’t banned me for life yet). I do think we all tend to hear what we want to hear from each other and too often look for someone to blame, rather than really listening and trying to solve our problems in a win-win way that benefits everyone in town.

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