During Item 22 of the June 15, 2011 Los Angeles City Council meeting (Federal Funding For Wilshire Bus Lane), the council president used discretion to limit the public comment time to 30 minutes, due to a large number of cards that were submitted. The President gave some specific suggestions to the crowd in the audience, waiting to speak, toward the goal of arranging/manipulating the public comment session.
The suggestion to please limit your comments and try to not repeat the comments of others, is not only chilling to an amateur public speaker, but an attempt of censorship. There is strength and power in numbers. And those numbers are represented by the comments of the people. 100 people sending a message, is a louder message than suggesting one person represent the opinion, for all. Which is the attempt when a council president says, "...be short, succinct and not repeat something that has already been said (if you can)." (You can hear LaBong say, "We all gotta sit here for 30 minutes?" LOL! Yeah, Tom! Like we have to do for YOU hot-air, blabber-mouth, repetitive, grandstanding windbags.)
Then, all of the cards called were the "for" opinion. No time was given to present the "no" (opposing) position. Even though SOME members were for Plan A, some for Plan B and others for Plan C, NO ONE who wanted a "NO" vote from council was called to the podium to speak.
Matt Dowd submitted a card, to represent his "no" opinion on the entire item. His card was not called. When Mr. Dowd informed the Sgt at Arms that no time was given to present the "against' position, the Sgt at Arms walked to the council president to inform him of the situation (no time given for opposing argument). The Sgt returned to tell Mr. Dowd that the president rejects Mr. Dowd's request to offer any time for the opposing view.
Additionally, once it was announced that public comment was about to be taken on the item, Mr. Zuma Dogg wanted to put in a card for public comment on the item, but once the item had started, no more cards would be accepted. The Brown Act does not allow for this restriction and cards are to be accepted during the item, if the public comment period has not been closed.
However, after public comment was closed, Councilman Ed Reyes stood up and allowed two speakers to give public comment on his (Mr. Reyes') time. Seems like a convenient way to fudge the Brown Act and circumvent certain speakers, while creating exceptional circumstances for others.