I’m done with thoughts and prayers. We all should be.
A student killed 10 people and injured 13 others at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. In the United States, school shootings have increased dramatically over the past two decades. School shootings have become so frequent that students around the country are increasingly fearful of a shooting happening at their school.
Last Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting was contentious, to say the least. A lot of interesting things happened. Bucking the trend of public comment speakers speaking out against District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill, there were several people who spoke in support of his chairmanship. Then for the first time, public comment speakers took aim at the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture & Business’ (COLAB) Mike Brown for referring to Hill supporters as “far left actvists [sic]” attempting to “intimidate the new board.”
But when Hill reiterated criticism of Brown, the embattled Government Affairs Director yelled, “Point of order!” and reportedly attempted to approach the podium several minutes after he already provided public comment. Concerned that Brown was disrupting the meeting, a deputy escorted him out of the chambers. Here is where the facts are in dispute.
CalCoastNews’ Dan Blackburn attended the meeting and described the deputy as “dash[ing] past me, grabbed Brown by the arm, turned him around, and escorted him from the chambers.” CalCoastNews’ Karen Velie claimed the deputy told Brown, “I can’t allow you to voice your opinion.” Brown asserted his constitutional rights were violated because he invoked the point of order as part of “parliamentary rules.”
This is not the first or second time Brown has disrupted the meeting after he was criticized from behind the dais, but this is the first time he was escorted out of the chambers for doing so.
A “point of order” is a parliamentary procedure that is meant to draw attention to a rules violation in a meeting. In California, government meetings abide by the Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs open meetings. Brown invoked “point of order” but not to the specific rule that was allegedly being violated. Brown stated during general public comment — when he was allowed to return to the meeting — that it’s “proper” to have a point of order when an individual or an organization is being criticized by a board member. He later stated that it was at the chairperson’s discretion to determine whether or not that criticism warrants a rebuttal from the party being criticized.
According to the Brown Act, there is nothing that prevents a board member from criticizing public comment. The Brown Act does refer to a “point of order” motion, but that motion is limited to a member of the board, not the audience. In his column, Blackburn described the motion as similar to “asking for permission to be heard on a parliamentary procedure,” which didn’t happen. There was no “asking.”
But the facts didn’t stop Blackburn from criticizing the deputy for “illegally” escorting Brown out of the chambers — “muzzling” Brown, even. Blackburn described the move as being part of County Sheriff Ian Parkinson’s “Amerika,”
There’s intent behind the misspelling of America with a “k.” In World War II, “Amerika” was a designation of the Special Train Führersonderzug, which Adolf Hitler used throughout the war when he traveled between Berlin, Munich and other headquarters. In April 1942, the Nazis conceived a plan to strike the United States from Germany using a long-range strategic bomber. This was called the “Amerika Bomber” project.
It’s a difficult to compare someone disrupting a meeting and getting escorted out, to a genocidal regime.
Blackburn chose to demonize Ian Parkinson and the County Sheriff’s Dept. based on one deputy’s understandable actions. In doing so, he invoked Nazism. That’s a poor use of history and another lasting black mark on CalCoastNews’ journalistic integrity. But who’s keeping score?
Will the Sheriff’s Dept. receive an apology from Blackburn? Highly unlikely. His bearings have long since departed.