Kodiak Daily Mirror - Residents attempting to repeal decorum ordinance
Residents attempting to repeal decorum ordinance
by Julie Herrmann
Jul 18, 2014 | 248 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Several Kodiakans again spoke against the decorum in debate ordinance that the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly passed at its July 3 meeting.

Four people spoke up at the meeting, using the three minutes allotted during public comment time. Three of them had also spoken on the topic at a July 10 work session.

“I can understand why this body would pass such an ordinance,” said Aaron Williams. “I don’t believe someone should come up here and spout profanity constantly because that’s not the intent of coming up here.”

Williams said not everyone is eloquent and people are just trying to get their point across.

“The voice of the people has to be heard, no matter how soft or loud it is,” Williams said.

Betty MacTavish, who spoke against the decorum ordinance at the work session, said citizens need to be able to speak without risk of interruption during the three-minute public comment.

“Kodiak is a blue-collar community.  Many do not have college degrees and debate decorum,” MacTavish said. “The right of the citizen should stand unencumbered by the threat of being silenced. People tend to talk louder using stronger language and get angry or upset if they feel they’re not being heard.”

MacTavish is part of a group working to put a repeal measure on the fall ballot. 

She said the 12 signatures needed have already been gathered.

“We turned those in this week and the signatures have been verified,” MacTavish said. “The clerk’s office has two weeks to get us the petition sheets and then we’ll be distributing those petition sheets, and I think we need 234 signatures (to get it on the ballot).”

The signatures must be from Kodiak voters.

MacTavish said the signatures ideally would be turned in by the end of the month so there’s plenty of time to make sure they are in order and verified before the election.

The controversial section of the borough code, which already addressed behavior in meetings, requires everyone to “avoid personalities (sic)” and “under no circumstances … attack or question the motives of another person.”

It also allows assembly members to call point of order and stop a member of the public from speaking if they violate proper decorum so the chair can rule on whether that speech is allowed.

So far, no members of the public have come forward to speak in favor of the ordinance.

Contact Julie Herrmann at jherrmann@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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