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Eckhardt lays down rules for speakers

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 by Mark Richardson

Most observers of Travis County Commission meetings over the past several months would probably agree that much of the Citizens Communications segment has become a parade of sometimes outrageous commentary that has little or nothing to do with the court’s business, and occasionally strays over into being racist or profane. In fact, it had gotten so bad that outgoing Judge Sam Biscoe suspended CitCom for his final two meetings. New Judge Sarah Eckhardt has decided to keep it, but not without a warning to those speakers who might abuse the privilege. “I would just like to remind folks what’s been in the rules for a long time with regard to Citizens Communication. It’s not the intention of the Travis County Commissioners Court to provide a public forum for the demeaning of any individual or group. Neither is it the intention of the court to allow a member or members of the public to insult the honesty or integrity of the court as a body, or any member or members of the court individually or collectively,” she said, also banning language that is profane, threatening, racist or sexist. Eckhardt added that speakers who get out of line could have their time revoked, be escorted from the Commission Chambers, cited for contempt or receive one of several other criminal sanctions state law may provide. Most of Tuesday’s speakers were members of the public or county staff with informative messages. However, two speakers — regulars Carlos Leon and Jon Kim — managed to push the limits, with Leon calling former Judge Biscoe a liar and Kim complaining (for perhaps the 100th time) that Gov. Rick Perry and other state official are “terrorists” for not responding to his letters. Eckhardt did not confront either one for making comments that were arguably over the line, but did give them a stern glare — this time. Could be interesting next week if they return.



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