By DANIEL ROGERS
ROSWELL, Ga. — The Roswell City Council Monday deferred to committee a set of rules of decorum after a lively discussion.
The potential rules of decorum was only one of several agenda items of the Oct. 27 meeting but caused the most controversy and discussion.
The rules were drafted in order to “foster an atmosphere of civil and courteous discourse, even when discussing contentious topics, at all meetings held by the City of Roswell” as outlined in the news agenda packet supplied to the Council and offered online to citizens.
Several citizens of Roswell voiced their concerns about the potential misuse of the proposed rules. One concerned citizen, Janet Russell, determined these rules as a method by the City Council to stifle opposition.
“I think that the fact that you even have to bring up these rules of decorum is a form of reducing our First Amendment rights of freedom of speech,” said Russell. ”These rules are the City Council and mayor’s way of controlling input on things that they don’t want to hear.”
Roswell Mayor Jere Wood, 66, responded to Russell’s concerns by saying, “So for the folks who would like to be able to say anything and to attack individuals they would find this to be limiting, for the folks who wish to speak the truth and to be heard, they would find this, uh, it will not get in their way.
“The presiding officer, whether it be me or chair, has an obligation to run an orderly meeting and very similar rules are enforced by me all the time and we’re simply saying if we’re going to have rules we should put them in writing and have them be clear for everybody.”
The motion to defer to committee was brought by Roswell City Council member Rich Dippolito in order to make the rules easier to understand. The motion to defer to committee was passed with a five to one vote with Kent Igleheart voting against the motion.
“This is the fun part of this because I get to talk back to you and get to say how ridiculous the things you do and say are but people who sit out there don’t get to do that,” said Igleheart during his discussion of the rules with Wood.
The rules for decorum will be brought up in future meetings once they have gone through the committee and are rewritten.
“I would encourage us, maybe, to take this back and make it a little less legal. I know it was a little more legal when we started. We been trying to soften it to make it feel more like … we’re talking about civility here and just treating each other in a respectful way which I think is the ultimate goal,” said Dippolito.