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L.A. council approves rules that could ban members of the public who violate decorum

July 29, 2009 |  4:45 pm

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a measure today that will give the council president more discretion to eject members of the public who violate the chamber’s rules of decorum.

Under the strengthened policy, which was approved without debate, the president will no longer have to warn speakers deemed unruly and disruptive before kicking them out. Violations will also ban the speakers from appearing in the chamber for up to 30 council-meeting days.

Taking cues from more stringent policies adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the council expanded the scope of unacceptable actions to include “disorderly, contemptuous or insolent” behavior toward council members and boisterous conduct that disrupts the meeting.

The council adopted its first conduct rules in 2006 based on those of the city of Norwalk, and added penalty provisions in 2007. But members of the public have rarely been thrown out of council meetings. Three council members -- Greig Smith, Herb Wesson and Jan Perry -- proposed changes because they felt the council had been too lax in enforcing the rules.

President Eric Garcetti said the council would continue to be vigilant about protecting free speech. Councilwoman Janice Hahn supported the policy changes but said she hoped they would not be misused by future councils. “I just always fear the rules can be abused by someone who frankly just doesn’t want to face the public,” she said.

-- Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall