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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS

Huntington Beach

April 27, 1999|Eron Ben-Yehuda, (714) 965-7172, Ext. 13

During public comments at last week's City Council meeting, resident John Briscoe accused City Treasurer Shari Freidenrich of mismanaging and lying about the money the city collects for certain municipal services. Mayor Peter M. Green became incensed and tried to turn off the speaker's microphone. He also ordered the television crew to stop broadcasting the meeting. The mayor told Briscoe he could continue to talk but that "the Constitution does not guarantee television time or microphone time." City Administrator Ray Silver said Green hit the switch to turn off the microphone, but it wasn't working because the city is rewiring the chambers.

Briscoe accused Freidenrich of being "unable to tell the difference between $20,000, $200,000 [and] $2 million." He alleges she told the public that a vendor she hired for collections was exempt from competitive bidding because the firm charged less than $20,000. He claims she later said the vendor was paid $200,000. Freidenrich has disputed the allegations.

Councilman Dave Sullivan said he watched a recording of the meeting and the camera was not turned off but was turned away from Briscoe. The city attorney was not available to comment on whether the mayor violated Briscoe's right to free speech.

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