Councilman: Keep personal lives off limits

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – After his personal life took center stage at a recent city council meeting, one councilman is seeking legal help to stop it from happening again.

Councilman James DeSana Monday introduced a proposal directing City Attorney William Look to investigate any legal authority the city has to stop residents from bringing up the personal lives of councilors at city council meetings.

The proposal came after a May 21 meeting in which resident Richard Miller called DeSana a “liar” and alleged that he didn’t have Wyandotte Municipal Services cable television during a discussion about the department’s recent cable TV rate hikes.

DeSana, who with the proposal submitted a copy of his WMS cable bill, said he usually ignores inaccurate comments made about him at the podium, but wants to see a change in how they are handled.

“We all want to protect the right of freedom of speech, but I think that it should be with more respect on the issue before us rather than getting involved in what someone may personally have in their home,” he said. “I sometimes think that what’s preventing a lot of people from seeking these offices, because they don’t want their personal lives on cable television.”

Some councilors agreed with DeSana’s position, but added that the city does have a code of conduct for city council meetings that outlines acceptable behavior.

Others, like Councilman Leonard Sabuda said the mayor, who runs the meeting, should be in charge of admonishing people who make false statements or speak about topics not on the agenda and should eject them from the meeting if needed.

Councilors also discussed a five-minute time limit for residents to speak during the meeting.

“If they are not professional, its the mayor’s job to get rid of the guy or gal,” Sabuda said. “A lot of people are rude, a lot of people don’t care, they are emotional and they just don’t treat you with respect for the office.

“They may not have to like you, but they should respect the office of mayor or council or engineer or whatever because we are serving for them.”

Look is to investigate and report back on the matter.