Deputy Mayor Bob Baggett called for a closed-door, executive session at the end of Monday night’s study session to settle the matter of what to do about Largo Wales’ public use of profanity to refer to fellow Councilman John Holman.
And some council members wanted exactly that.
“I’d just as soon get off the front pages of the newspaper,” Holman said.
“I’d be pleased to finish it right now, get it past us,” Larry Brown said.
“A lot of constituents are saying we, as council members, can spend our money better than to be wasting our time on something that should have been taken care of right away,” said Councilwoman Yolanda Trout-Manuel.
But by that time, Monday’s session had gone on for nearly 3½ hours, tongues were tuckered out and brains fried, so council members agreed to put off until next Monday’s official meeting the final, behind-closed-doors discussion and ultimate public resolution of the issue.
“I say do it up front, instead of at the end,” Bill Peloza said of next Monday’s meeting. “I might get kinda crabby if we go into executive session (at the end of the next meeting). I don’t know if anybody wants me to get crabby.”
“I’ll take that under advisement,” Baggett responded lightheartedly to Peloza, before officially postponing the discussion.
Wales herself said nothing.
But in a letter inserted last week into the City Hall box of each council member, Wales explained her thinking. In her letter to Baggett, which the City Attorney’s office released, Wales wrote as follows. Comments have been edited only for minor spelling errors and for the sake of clarity.
“As I review the incident of March 6, there are two issues. The first issue is the systemic communication dysfunction facing our council, and the second issue is of my language usage. It is short sighted to not look at the precipitating behavior(s) if responsibility is to be established, and if change is to be made,” Wales wrote.
“Looking at the communication leadership, (neither) a balanced forum nor equal opportunity has been provided to all councilmembers. You have contacted me twice by phone, once to request help with the Junior Council, and a second time to threaten my position.
“Members of your council feel the council meetings are where, against a few, ‘Robert’ s Rules of Order,’ are not used as a tool to aid in communication, but to limit discussion. The application of the rule related to a motion and serial comments has not been applied consistently. Past practice has (been) allowed in council meetings with a motion on the floor” for serial questions. At study sessions, a majority of the council agreed to have a less formal format, but at Holman’ s urging, you limited my discussion. Interesting to note, at our last study session, when the focus area was led by Brown and you inadvertently stepped in, Holman didn’t interrupt you with another ‘Point of Order.’
“At the time of the incident, the two questions were clearly stated, followed by Councilmember Holman’s statement of clarification, and concluded with (a) ‘Point of Order’ regarding my request for a third response. Our attorney was queried for clarification, and the Mayor then called on me for a further comment. I further appreciate the support of the rest of the council when a previous attempt by Holman to shut down communication was not sustained.
“Badgering, interruption of process and limiting the council’s access to information has to be addressed in addition to my descriptive language. Constant interruptions to established practices without notification of procedural changes, councilmembers walking out of meetings, a recent comment that you ‘deliberately’ disregarded a request for a discussion item to be held over, and finally stating that the ‘two women (Wales and Trout-Manuel) shouldn’t sit together,’ is not good leadership, nor (does it) promote communication and team work.
“We need to review transcripts and minutes of that and other meetings. I hope you will facilitate my receipt of said documents for further review and discussion,” Wales concludes.