Robert Cardimino argued that the council's new rules would severely limit citizen participation.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council approved 8-1 new rules of order despite protests from two of the city's most vocal residents.
Frequent council critic Robert Cardimino described the move as "nothing but censorship."
"I know you're going to tell me this is the way it's done in other cities — Pittsfield, Greenfield — to try to justify the implementation of this rule," he said. "So why not lead and have other cities look to North Adams by not adopting this rule and show some leadership."
The new rules submitted by Council President Michael Bloom would limit public input to three minutes during a new "hearing of visitors" at the beginning of the meeting and two minutes during open forum at the end. Statements during the hearing of visitors will be confined to matters on the agenda and the public would be allowed to speak on matters during council debate only at the president's discretion.
The first business of the newly formed council passed on a roll call vote with Councilor John Barrett III voting nay.
Barrett urged his fellow councilors to delay implementation for a few months and motioned to table the matter for two weeks but it died without second.
"Yeah, it'll be nice if we can keep people quiet and we don't have to listen to them, and we don't have to be badgered and all that ... but you know what, we put our name on the ballot and subject ourselves to criticism," he said, calling for the audience to have at least two minutes for statement during council debate.
His colleagues, most of whom have indicated frustration with repeated attacks and inappropriate behavior during meetings over the past two years, rejected his pleas.
"I would like to see how this will change the tenor of the meetings," said Councilor Keith Bona, saying there are opportunities for citizens to speak out, as well as to participate during committee meetings. "I think this gives a little more control to our meetings."
Resident Mark Trottier, who has spoken out a number of times on free speech issues before the council, said rather than limit citizens, the president should use the gavel to control meetings.
"This is nothing more than silencing the people," said Trottier, who objected to taxpayers and citizens being described as "visitors" at council meeting. He also disagreed with the findings by City Solicitor John DeRosa that upheld the rules; Councilor Jennifer Breen Kirsch, an attorney, said she agreed with DeRosa's opinion and that they were based on recent case law.
Both Trottier and Cardimino said the public didn't have access to the information in the councilors' meeting packets so would be severely hampered if their comments on items before the council were limited to the beginning of the meetings.
"Having to speak before the meeting only stifles the flow of information," said Cardimino, who admitted to some acrimony on both sides. "How can any citizen anticipate what kind of information is going to be presented?"
Councilor Lisa Blackmer said her research had found a number of cities that applied similar rules but agreed citizens needed better access to documentation.
"I'd like to be able to support our new president," said Councilor Alan Marden, who admitted to being conflicted. "If we do approve them as presented, it's incumbent on this council and the city clerk that we provide the information requested by the public." North Adams Rules of Order 2012
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Just another example of government becoming more out of touch with the people. Punish everybody for the actions of two. This is a violation of our right to free speech
I fully support the changes on Public Speaking that the Council passed on the 10th. It is long overdue that we, also as citizens, are able to watch a Council meeting without the aggravation of the continued comments/criticisms of a very few unhappy people. I do believe that the public should have access to meeting agendas prior to the meeting. Positive questioning is certainly acceptable, but constant harassment should not be allowed to happen.
Seems [edited] Bloom is not smart enough to keep order on his own. How can the taxpayers comment on items when the agenda does not say what they are. Plus the councilors cannot be challenged during debate as is a new england tradition. Shame on the councilors and [edited]
It's unfortunate that those of us who attend council meetings on occasion and choose to speak up about specific items that interest us have lost some of the ability to do so. I don't believe any member of the City Council actually believes this to be the best way to run a meeting. Rather, this decision was forced upon them by the actions of TWO people who don't know how to show others any respect. Hope they're happy now.
What a joke, a mere game of words, 8-1 with the high ruler President Bloom and his V.P. Blackmer hitting one but its going to be a long game, its not over till its over, thats just what they thing of the people, very distastefuly to 14,000 people of North Adams. shame, shame on you all who voted for this.
Government has now turned a deaf ear to the citzens/visitors at the local level. The only voice of reason for the people was the distiguished Mr. Barrett. Shame on veteran councilors Harpin and Marden, as they followed suit failing to give a voice to the elderly in the community at the council meetings. Marden, especially failed to hold to his own convictions, and was a follower, not a leader. Very disappointing indeed. Time for both elder Councilors to go,as your time has past you by as experienced councilor with tunnel vision, who are no longer voting in the best interest of the community of 13,000. Take note visitors, we now have a revised Gang from past, now to be known as the Gang of 8.
Outrage is the word on the street this morning at 7.a.m. regarding the Hooligans of the city councilors' except JB3 the only one with any "Moxie" to stand up to this council, silence is the word, or should I say Law of the council
now. president Bloom and his VP have spoken.
A protest just might be in order said one man haing coffee, quoting him, maybe the ninty niners
the ACLU and a few more people should come to town". only time will tell.Good Luck To All
Doesn't the city council have committee meetings when they discuss taxes. Go to those. Barrett said the council is changing the rules becuase of two people. Shame on those two people. If they didn't constantly make the meeting a circus the rules wouldn't have changed. Thank Mr. Cardimini and Mr. Trottier for this one. I remember when Barrett didn't attend meetings or had police present becuase of one of Cardimino.
I wish I had known Bloom would have access to this kind of power before I, you know, voted for him. I voted for him as a City Councilor, not to give him the power to solely decide which "visitors" are allowed to weigh in during discussion, as indicated in the article. I understand the the Council has had issues with meetings being derailed, but characterizing tax paying citizens of this city as "visitors" is a bit much. I feel like the voters of North Adams were really misled.
Its not a surprise to anyone that the council planned on passing these meeting rules regardless of what taxpayers and residents had to say. It sort of doesnt matter anyway because they DONT listen to what people say....they just do what they want. The only one on that council that HONESTLY cares about the city and the taxpaying residents is Mr. Barrett. Anyone who REALLY listens to him at these meetings can see that. Too bad the rest of them dont share that type of dedication to the city. After all....THEY ARE ELECTED to serve the residents of North Adams, but they really dont want to hear from them. How ridiculous this makes them look as they sit there at their little seats acting all powerful. Unbelievable! They certainly disgusted me last night...
Kudo's to Councilor Barrett for being the lone vote last night for the people. I also believe you will see many 8-1 votes in regards to any issue that will benefit the taxpayer, and city resident. Also, I thought it was quite respectful of Mr. Barrett to offer his service to the Mayor in getting the Mohawk Theatre project up and running in some capacity after such a lengthy delay. However,I would be extremely shocked if the Mayor takes him up on this generous offer, as the President Bloom, and Mayor Alcombright totally dissed Mr. Barrett as they failed to place the most qualified individual on the finance committee. Typcial politicians, its all about them, and not what is in the overall best interest of the city.
In a very crafted play by both council president Bloom an VP Blackmer, drafter by legal council the hammer came down on the good people on North Adams in the form of another shaft "Silencing your opinion at council meetings".No "Moxie" only John Barrett III, had the moxie to speak for the people, "Good for you John, and Thanks.
The Road Warrior has risen from the road side after having been slapped down and tagged teamed by 42 yr old, and an Editor. Hard to believe there is only one comment by the public concerning censorship by the city council. What's up with that...? I guess people have finally gotten tired of their governing body realizing they cannot make a difference after all Truly Sad!
I thought participation was supposed to be encouraged. To not allow the citizens to voice opinion on the topics at some point post council discussion but pre council vote does seem to be a mistake. As often happens the few, with the biggest most aggresive voices, have influence over what happens to the many, even though it is not what is best for them.
Road Warrior...welcome back. My post was the only one there for a while....notice it was edited. Apparently tammy allows people to call JB3, and Mr Cardimino and Trottier anyname in the book, but calling Bloom the Deputy German word for leader is not allowed.
Censorship again. They are behaving like nazis, while not call them that.
City Coucil has no legal requirement to have public forums AT ALL. So be happy you have TWO opportunities to speak at each meeting. I applaud City Council President Bloom in attempting to get the meetings more preductive and much more civiiized. They are there to conduct city business and not to constantly listen to the rantings of Cardimino and Trottier. If you're unhappy with the change, you can blame those two.
It truly is amazing that residents of this City will stoop to calling people Nazis over an issue as mundane as limiting someone's time to speak at a City Council meeting. These meetings are for the City to conduct business, with input from members of the public to be sure, but meetings are not a place for a few malcontents to rant and rave at everything under the sun. The Council is not censoring anyone, but rather amended the rules to ensure that meetings proceed in an orderly fashion so that the City's business is done - which is what members of the Council are elected to do.
Ted, you are way off base blaming two city residents for the changes in council rule. Blame the council, the eight councilors that want to silence 13000 plus. Mr. Trottier was respectful citing case law, and making well thought out points where city government has failed us. Mr. Cardimino was verbally attacked by councilors as well as they disrepected him many times as well. Shame on city govenment for scolding the community for their lack of failure to conduct the city business properly.
Editor: I would believe that if 13,000 showed up at meetings. They don't and they haven't. While limiting the ability of citizens to speak is troubling, I've also heard from citizens who don't mind the new rules because they believe there's been too much disruption. BTW, from my understanding this was not about Mr. Trottier.
Visitor completely misses the point. Both Cardimino and Trottier are given to insults and personal attacks. For example, Cardimino called the acts of the council seditious, treasonous, and said "And, you call yourselves Americans?" Trottier accused the City Solicitor of making up the legal authority referred to in the solicitor's legal opinion. Now, they're free to say what they want, but their conduct at meetings over the years has been disruptive, mean spirited, and nasty. No one has an unfettered right to run off at the mouth at a public meeting. If there were such a right, nothing would get done. And, the Council has not silenced anyone, but simply limited to discussion to matters at hand, and limited the duration of the discussion. That's it. Now, why not focus on issues more important to the City like jobs, education, and crime?
The way we see it from home on the tube, is that Former Council President Boucher, nor current Council President Bloom do not know how to conduct those meetings as council presidents based on the rules and regulation, or in keep the public on topic with , or in respectful order by way of the gavel. Many times even just the rules of addressing the council with a resident stating name, and address has not occurred properly. Just Ask Ms. Daniels regarding outbursts, as she has attending meetings and is aware such actions on on both side of the rail. She was also blunt in her recent comments on here as well. So, therefore it is very unfair to point the finger and to blame two locals for speaking out. Also with the council, many times papers need to be amended as they are incorrect, or the order or next procedure to take place is wrong, with the council presidents confused at what to do next. A very lame, lack luster, and unprofessional council has represented the people of North Adams. Councilors, if you want to run city government like the legislature then get your house in order. To be respected, you must first earn respect. Thank you.
What was done here is not unusual, nor is it "silencing" the citzens. Anyone is given a right to speak at 2 points in the meeting, with a time limit in place. This is the same thing that happens at government meetings at all levels. No citizen can walk into the House or Senate and just start debating. Legislative committees place time limits on testimony. It makes good sense for government bodies to effectively and efficiently run meetings without being subject to the incessant rantings of the local town crier.
With all due respect to the editor, you clearly miss the point. I realize 13,000 people haven't, nor would ever show up. However, the council just took away the right for any common citizen to speak out if they so choose. That is not representation. Thank you
Where were all these so called free speech defenders when a group of citizens announced that they were going to ask the council during open forum to pass a resolution against the Iraq War.
IIRC, at least a few of the people claiming that the gallery should be able to speak during every agenda item were extremely vocal about preventing this group from doing so during open forum. Raging hypocrisy.
Where, On the Fence, is your proof that member of the local press is in the tank for the City government? The coverage of local issues is pretty even handed, though coverage of the issues facing the local schools is lacking. Just because you might have voted against the rule change, doesn't mean Tammy is in the tank for the City. You energies would be better directed at working toward something positive for the City, instead of lamenting losses in the recent election.
I just read a comment that was not posted by me. (This is it: "What is wrong with what is done. Let the people we elected pass laws and take care of us. Mr. Bloom should make it so no public or press is allowed.
Also, I have heard he will make a motion to have Mr. Barrett removed. He should since obviously Mr. Barrett does not have the best interests of DA or Mr. Bloom.
In addition these meetings do not need to be televised. As far as revenue, I can solve the problems. All property taxes increase by 100%. Issues solved. Those who cannot afford the increase, the property will be given to artists.
I think the editor knows that I would not make such comments. Additionally, I believe she (the editor) can identify the IP address of this imposter, and discern that it could not have come from me, as I usually post from 2 distinct IP addresses.
I have a feeling I know who did this. Just shows how low some people who disagree with your stances will go to make you look bad.
I do blame Mr. Trottier for part of this. He's either a want to be lawyer or politician that people are tired of hearing. He doesn't have the moxy to run and learn the voters don't want him. At least Mr. Cardimino had the moxy to run for city council. It's sad that he didn't learn anything by his low numbers. They both scream that the city council isn't listening to the people. It's the other way around. They people voted and they are poor losers by not respecting the who the majority voted.
Cuz: Just maybe you should run for office you have the Moxie to talk about people who just try and bring out some points of things that they believe are incorrect in local government. and No don;t want to be a lawyer (to many bag jokes) and not even a politician, just the citizen who believes in change must come to government.
I must set the record straight, I never accused the City Solicitor of making up the legal authority referred to in his legal opinion. I did question his case under the Forth Cir, and ask what case and the name, and did say that the city was taken the high road on this case,as this case is more on limited public forum then on designated public forum.
If asking questions about policy & procedures, Lost revenue, or city taxes is improper then shame on me,please get yor facts correct before you slander someone.
Mark, you are right on point. Your comments, and views are appreciated by the average blue collar hard working taxpayer in the city. Many in the community have clearly pointed out that the council is not doing there jobs properly. A prime example other than the meter issue, is the example of dragging of the feet of the city council in B.Y.O.B conerning a local establishment. It is unfortunate we live in a community where very few people actually care as to what is happening. The case in point is only 2 of 5 voters turned out to the polls to vote in the recent Mayoral/ Council election (40%). Most citizens that truly care, have lost confidence in city govnerment, and the actions of the Mayor, and council members over that last few months will do little or nothing to restore it anytime soon.
Mark Trottier - You did indeed accuse the City Solicitor of making the Fourth Circuit case up. When Ms. Breen pointed out that the solicitor cited the case in a footnote, you then claimed that "they" most have not included the cite in the copy of the opinion you received. No one is saying that you can't comment on the topics you mentioned. But you constant hectoring, ranting and raving, and disruptive conduct at meetings, do us all a disservice. It's not defamation when you tell the truth.
Thank you Mark, Bob and a special thanks to John. Unfortunately [the mayor] and the majority of city councilors are only interested in some sort of personal revenge not what is in the best interest of the taxpayers. This is a good example of why only 4 of 10 people vote in the city. The only respect this mayor and council will get will only be from the city unions they so lavishly reward.
With heartful thanks to JB3, Bobby C, Louis C, And Mark T, for your passion for the city, and bringing important issues to the forefront. Unfortunately, the residents in gallery have pointed out too many shortfalls, and failures of an inept city government who longer works for the people, or in the best interest of the city. They are attempting to banish, and silence their critics from the gallery, as they felt threatened by your voice. A truly sad display by a city government.
People do care. The percentage that voted in the Alcombright-Barrett election was higher than most prior elections. The people who took the time to vote should have their winning choices respected. Instead they continually hear from poor sports who can't get over the fact their side lost.
How about we start thanking the people that actually try to help this community selflessly and with respect for others. I'm talking about those that are willing to spend their spare time on the City Council or sitting on boards and commissions. How about the people who show up to clean-up events and other volunteer organizations and 40% of the registered voters in this City who actually care enough to spend 10 minutes a year voting.
The other 60% shouldn't be allowed an opinion at all. If Robert Cardimino and Mark Trottier actually want to help this community, then they should do their investigative work and bring those results to the proper representative. If they don't feel that the Mayor will take any action then they should ask a Councilor to propose the issue as an agenda item. That is how the system works. If there's not 1 out of 9 Councilors that will propose the issue, then it's not much of an issue is it?
FromHere I could not disagree with you more. "If 1 of the 9 does not think it is an issue then it is not". They are not the royal family. They are elected public servants. They are not the arbiturs of "is this issue worthy". I remember you from the prop 2.5 over ride talks...you were a member of the Scare Tactics Tour.
Ok, I will grant you that just because no one agrees with you on the Council, doesn't mean it's not worth discussing. I guess my point is... there's a proper way to go about things. For example, Mark Trottier had an issue with the parking meters. He did all kinds of research on his own time. But then, instead of bringing it to the Mayor or any one of the Councilors to be looked into, he blindsides everyone at the Council meeting. Unnecessary. If he had attempted to follow the process and then was ignored by everyone I would agree that he should then voice his displeasure in open forum so the public could hear about it.
Please get your facts correct before you tell people that I blindsided anyone.
I called Council Predident in June of 2011 talking about the lost revenue from the parking meters. I ask about doing a study and if it looks the way I think would he sponcer me, reply Yes,so I did and took it to the Aug council meeting just to show lost revenue at a time that the city is looking for more tax dollard from the property owners and we have city jobs that are not being properly done. No blindsiding Mr or Mrs. FRomHere,
I hag a issue and went the proper way with it.
This issue has never been address to date only put off to Finance, and no meeting yet, so please get your facts correct.
Editor: I'am surprised that you did comment on this!.
Mr. Trottier Again, thank you for all you do, you are on point the council doesn't want to know the truth or does the mayor. its been over 5 months on your parking meter issue and nothing has been done, thats government in North Adams at its best keep up the good work. For Fromhere, you are way out in left field,must be a friend of the Mayors.
get your facts in order before you utter.
In June, "on a hunch about a parking meter issue" Mr. Trottier asks Council President Boucher (who he was helping to get elected for Mayor) if he would sponsor him to speak at the Council meeting. A month long study in July confirms his suspicion that there is a lot of lost revenue there. He does not bring this finding to anyone in City Hall or any other City Councilor. Rather, he decides to speak at the August meeting blasting the Mayor over the results and arguing with Councilor Blackmer as all of the Councilors try to digest the many page report.
Without any advance information, what should have been expected from the City Council other than to refer the matter for more investigation?
What was the reason for not just asking the Mayor's office to look into the problem?
If this was all just about a concerned citizen trying to help the City, why not at least give the people responsible for this stuff an opportunity to look into the problem?
Editor: The issue was presented Aug. 23 to the council and referred to the mayor's office; the mayor provided a review on Oct. 11. It was then referred to the Finance Committee but has not yet appeared on the committee agenda. The last few committee meetings have been taken up with tax classifications and account transfers.
From Here Give them time ??? It has been seven months how much time do they need for something so simple ???? The mayor and council brag about the city moving forward ?? At what pace. Mark did a study and Blackmer and Bloom who did no study wanted to argue and tell him he was wrong???? Why is it no one but Mark noticed that parking revenue was down???? How can the mayor be blindsided when he has all the figures for revenue?? To say they need more time is a weak comment at best. If they need someone to get the job doen then put councilor John B. on it.
To FromHere: Again or should I say Councilor ? We will leave it at that.
I did ask the Mayor I believe in June or July at a open forum,"What can a citizen do to help this city out, like JFK said Its not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" No reply from Council or the Mayor, not even a phone call.
Sec. In June I was not working for elect Council President Boucher. he didn't even announce yet, get the facts straight.
Third: I did talk to councilors' back in early spring I call Councilor Marden on a few things about lost revenue, and I believe we talk about the meter issue, also talk to both Councilor Bond and Bona on the street, as councilor Bond ask me What I think I would like to address, I said something about investigation lost of money.
Last: It is about a concerned citizen trying to help the city. I have nothing to gain from this at all only to be criticized by people like you.
here is the link to the case that Mr. Trottier cited:
It allowed the removal of a citizen from a public meeting, for not following the rules that were set by the commission. Perhaps Mr. Trottier is making a case for individuals being removed from city council meetings?
Really:No not making any case about individuals being removed, the law is the law if correct, I posted the Chesterfield Country Planning Commission of Chesterfield, Virginia. above for all to read, however its funny after the case was over the commission did subsequently lift the language, It just makes you wonder!.
Let's stop and think about this . The headline, North Adams council Limits Public Speaking ?? That in itself seems anti American. It is a shame that in a country in which millions have died to protect the right of people to speak that eight councilors have decided they have a right to restrict what so many have died for. For any elected official to make laws or rules that restrict Free speach in any form can only viewed as Communism.