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People addressing Cambridge City Council no longer allowed to mention councilors' names

Cambridge Day takes note of the increasingly stern measures the council is taking to maintain decorum, even at the risk of ignoring that pesky First Amendment.

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suffice.

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I'm greatly looking forward to testimony peppered with phrases such as:

"Well, you-know-who is an idiot!"
"Let me respond to councilor stupid.."
"That One [pointing] is wrong!"
"To the hideously ugly councilor I say...."

It's going to be great when people resort to childhood insults instead of just saying their names.

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Anyone who's met Ilan Levy will tell you that he's extremely courteous. Sure, he has some weird ideas about municipal government, but removing him from the chamber is inappropriate. Dietrich and Williams are both bloviating fools. Still, suppressing their right to make asses of themselves is not an appropriate use of government authority.

Mayor Simmons should be ashamed of herself.

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Or check out their ideas
http://vote.cambridgecivic.com/levy.htm
http://vote.cambridgecivic.com/dietrich.htm
http://vote.cambridgecivic.com/williamson.htm

In some circles the Cambridge Day writer of the article is also thought of that way, particularly by others getting castigated
http://www.cambridgeday.com/author/john-hawkinson/

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I think their problems are more like some of the councilors are stereotypical not-very-bright-but-political PTA members, than the bribery and corruption and organized crime problems Boston gets.

There are some suspicious dealings with development in Cambridge (someone still needs to go to prison for the CRA). And I see some suspicious primo handouts to different groups, in a city where a surprisingly small number of votes can win a city council seat. But don't attribute to malice, that which can be explained adequately by stupidity.

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What the Cambridge city council is saying is this: "If we don't like what you're saying, then shutup!".

Seriously, if you can't take the criticism of constituents, then don't go into politics. How can any politician honestly try to fix problems if they are only willing to "listen" to positive comments?

Going even further, why restrict someone from naming a councilor? This whole thing really is dumb.

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The First Amendment does not apply to Cambridge.

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Nor do the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 8th, or 9th amendments apply.

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At the Monday council meeting, Simmons began the public comment period by announcing: “Please refrain from personalities, please refrain from mentioning councillors specifically. … There’ll be no negative comments. I would really ask you not to, or the council under the orders of the chair will have to ask you to leave.”

This is a marked change from prior years, [...]

At Monday’s meeting, local activist James Williamson ran up against Simmons’ enforcement. Williamson tried to speak to a letter on the agenda from Dennis Carlone:

“I think the voters and citizens of Cambridge deserve to know who are hosting Dennis Carlone’s trip to what he describes as ‘Israel and Palestine,’” Williamson started to say, but he was cut short by Simmons.

[...]

But Simmons cut him off: “Time’s ticking away – Now your time is up. Thank you for your comments.”

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Seemed like perhaps Simmons anticipated questions on something that was on the agenda, and perhaps tried to change the rules specifically to censor questions about that particular agenda item.

I don't know of this Williamson, nor whether his question was loaded with an inappropriate agenda, but the question might have been reasonable.

I'm more concerned by the willingness of the city council to throw away representative democracy, than I am about whatever foreign organization might have been talking with a city councilor.

Time for an investigation, possibly leading to impeachment.

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I was at that meeting and the gentleman displaying the sign in violation of City Council rules was told that this kind of display is not permitted in the City Council chamber and has not been for a very long time. If he was asked to leave, it would only have been after his refusal to stop displaying the sign.

People make reference to the names of city councillors all the time at these meetings, but not generally as part of a tirade or personal attack. It's only when people enter into personal attacks that they are asked to "refrain from personalities."

It's worth noting that the writer of that article has had his own conflicts with City Council staff, and I believe he should have disclosed that in his article.

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In Congress and the Brirish Parliament, personal names are not used, but rather "the honorable member from..." and issues of decorum do arise, meaning one needs to really work at criticizing a member without saying as much.

And as far as signs go, they are too distracting.

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because all council members are elected at-large.

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I think it would be great if Cambridge City Councillors, even jokingly, started referring to each other as "the Honorable Councillor from Third Street" or "the Honorable Councillor from Appleton Street", etc. Imagine the possibilities for faux compliments.

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