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'Rude Rowdies' Disrupt Freeway Hearing

March 05, 1987

Class always shows. The lack of it is even more apparent. The disruption of presentations at the Feb. 19 public hearing on the Meridian Variation were uncivilized, uncalled for and certainly un-American.

I expected a large, partisan crowd in opposition to the proposed project. I expected many derogatory remarks to be leveled against the state Department of Transportation. I expected long, possibly standing ovations for those speakers who kindled the emotions of concerned South Pasadena residents.

I did not expect to hear shouts intoned with hostility directed against speakers who were exercising their rights, which are guaranteed by the First Amendment!

If there was a need to let off steam, surely those opposing the remarks of the speakers could have waited until the end of their presentations. After all, the freeway impasse has gone on for over 22 years. A couple of minutes more is but a drop in the bucket.

I recall another public hearing conducted in Alhambra's council chamber some time ago at which the pros and cons of the freeway were discussed. Many South Pasadena residents spoke that day, including former Mayor AlvaLee Arnold and her son. Alhambra residents had enough class to let them speak without interruption, even though some of their remarks pierced sensitive nerves.

Considering the fact that Alhambra is being used as a dump site for cars and trucks at the Valley Boulevard freeway terminus, its residents exercised considerable restraint toward their neighbors to the north.

Unless you have been denied your right to speak at a public meeting, the ruckus raised by rude rowdies at the Feb. 19 hearing might seem to be of little consequence.

Having been dismissed from South Pasadena's podium on several occasions in the past by former Mayor Arnold and former school board President Yvonne Pine, I am acutely affected by any infringement of the right to speak and be heard.

I respect the right of everyone who came to the public hearing to be heard, even the more zealous freeway fighters who wore red shirts. Unfortunately, it appears that too many of them had necks to match.

ROBERT O. COOK

South Pasadena

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