Commission may restrict speakers
Grandstanding the objection
By Laura A. Bischoff
DAYTON DAILY NEWS
27 Feb, 1996
Speakers at Dayton City Commission meetings may rind the microphone shutting off, a timer letting them know when their three minutes are up, a
commission that won't answer their questions at the meeting and cable TV cameras that won't show them talking.
Commissioners are looking for ways to eliminate personal attacks, signs, debates and grandstanding. Shutting off the cameras and microphones are
just some of the ideas under discussion.
"I think we've gone way overboard with the personal attacks," Commissioner Richard Zimmer said. But Mayor Mike Turner questioned how "personal
attacks" would be defined and how the new rules would be enforced without hurting people's opportunity to address issues.
Depending on the week some of the regular speakers spice up the meetings with signs shouting, finger pointing and other antics.
Last week, neighborhood activist David Esrati used a giant poster to illustrate his discussion of Dayton waste collectors who work shortened days but
are paid for eight hours. Esrati, who is staging a recall attempt against Commissioners Tony Capizzi and Zimmer, gave a toy slug to interim city
manager Maureen Pero for her "sluggish" response to his questions.
Then, Gary Kidd, another regular lar speaker at commission meetings, said Capizzi hung up on him during a call-in cable TV show, Right after the
meeting, Kidd accused Capizzi of pointing his finger in Kidd's face and threatening ening him. Kidd filed a police complaint the next day and, detectives
are Investigating. Capizzi called Kidd's complaint' absurd and a waste of time and money.
Kidd argued with Commissioner Idotha Bootsie Neal weeks ago when she interpreted his comments as racist and ordered him to sit down.
Kidd and Esrati object to the proposed rules, saying the restrictions go against Dayton's tradition of encouraging citizen participation.
"I think this is amazing. This, says they are absolutely terrified of facing the people they work for," Esrati said. "They talk about' citizen participation
but they don't want to hear what citizens have to say."
Pero said, "The idea isn't to quash anybody expressing their opinions. What is happening is they are using it to advertise and to perform rather than to