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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | East County / THOUSAND OAKS

Plan to Limit Public Comment Scrapped

September 24, 1998|ANDREW STEVEN HARRIS

Bowing to public protests, Mayor Michael Markey has dropped his plan to restrict political speeches during the public-comment period at council meetings.

"Everyone wants to respect your 1st Amendment rights, and we will sit here all night to hear you," Markey said during Tuesday's meeting.

Still, the mayor said he would urge speakers to focus their comments on the business of city government, rather than to use the televised meetings as campaign commercials.

The council voted 5 to 0 to restore the council's original policy that does not limit speech topics by the public.

Council candidates said they were relieved that their access to the microphone had been restored.

"It should never have been taken away in the first place," said candidate Richard Messina, who had filed charges against Markey with the district attorney's office after the mayor shouted him down at a Sept. 8 meeting.

"I guess the pressure worked," said candidate Chris Buckett, who had organized a demonstration against the policy in front of City Hall. "It's a shame that that's what it takes to reach some of these people sometimes."

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