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Supervisor stops speaker from leapfrogging others at board meeting

April 3, 2012 |  5:07 pm

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky came close to losing his temper Tuesday when a frequent critic of the board tried to leapfrog other speakers during a public comment period.

When Eric Preven, a Studio City resident who addresses the board on multiple items just about every week, attempted to speak first even though three others were called before him, an exasperated Yaroslavsky cut him off. 

"You're not up first, Mr. Preven. God," Yaroslavsky said, pausing while searching for the right words before finally settling on "bless it."

"Do you understand the rules?" Yaroslavsky asked Preven. "Don't usurp the microphone."

Earlier this year, Yaroslavsky took some heat from free speech advocates after introducing a resolution that would have limited how often citizens could address the Board of Supervisors. At the time, he said his motive was not to cut off comment but to keep two frequent speakers from dominating the open microphone. Yaroslavsky’s spokesman, Joel Bellman, subsequently identified Preven as one of the targets.

The resolution was pulled before it came to a vote, but on Tuesday Yaroslavsky's frustration resurfaced.

"Somehow you think you own this place," Yaroslavsky said to Preven. "You are only one of 10 million people who own it, and the lady who was called first gets first crack."

Preven, who lives in Yaroslavsky's district and almost always starts by introducing himself as the "county resident from District Three," quickly stopped talking and then waited his turn. 

Yaroslavsky does not plan to bring his motion back to the board for a vote. 

"The board currently feels public comment has been working smoothly the last three months," said Bellman. "There's no reason to make any changes."


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-- Jason Song at the County Hall of Administration

Photo: Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky at a Los Angeles Coliseum Commission meeting last November. Credit: Bob Chamberlin  / Los Angeles Times