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Downey : Gadfly Arrested at Meeting

November 17, 1988

A gadfly was arrested at the Downey City Council meeting Tuesday night, booked for disrupting a public meeting and released on his own recognizance, an official said.

Stanley Wantuch, 23, of Bell Gardens was removed from the meeting chamber by police after he questioned and argued with Mayor Robert G. Cormack about a proposal to limit the time citizens are allowed to speak during a council session.

Wantuch was arrested about 10 p.m. after Cormack asked him repeatedly to be seated and stop disrupting the meeting. He was released about an hour later, Police Chief Pete Stone said.

Stone said the case will be presented to the district attorney's office for possible prosecution on a misdemeanor charge of disrupting a public meeting. Wantuch is to appear Nov. 23 in Downey Municipal Court.

In an interview Wednesday, Wantuch said he broke no law, that he was properly questioning a council proposal to limit speakers to 3 minutes instead of the 5 minutes they now have. Wantuch frequently attends Downey council meetings and occasionally speaks against council actions.

On a 3-2 vote, the council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that strictly controls citizen behavior during council meetings. The ordinance, for example, prohibits demonstrations and placards in the council chamber without approval from the mayor. But the council decided not to reduce the amount of time residents are allowed to address the council.

The ordinance will come before the council Dec. 6 for a second reading, and if given final approval, will take effect 30 days later, a city spokeswoman said.

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