Reacting to an upset resident who often speaks on issues seemingly unrelated to his complaint, Orange County supervisors approved new restrictions Tuesday on public speakers.
Under the new rules, members of the public aren’t allowed to speak for more than nine minutes total during Board of Supervisors meetings. A cap of three minutes per agenda item remains.
“I just want to, colleagues, run an orderly meeting [and] be respectful of every speaker,” said Chairman John Moorlach, who can grant exceptions to the new limit. It was approved 4-1 with Supervisor Janet Nguyen dissenting.
Supervisors changed their plans from a three-item limit to the time-based approach based on a suggestion from Voice of OC open government consultant Terry Francke.
Francke was concerned the item limit would be unfair to speakers who want to make brief comments on multiple items, so he proposed that a total time be set. Voice of OC asked Moorlach about the suggestion on Monday, and the proposal was changed at the meeting.
The speaking limit is aimed at Michael Wayne Klubnikin, who has increasingly used topics on the weekly agenda, such as child services and air conditioning, as a platform to discuss a dispute he has over a court taking control of several homes owned by his mother.
“I think you have to take a look at his behavior,” said Supervisor Bill Campbell. “He literally took an hour of the public’s time to blather” at the previous board meeting, Campbell added.
Supervisor Shawn Nelson agreed. “We want to focus people in on speaking on those items of significance that day, not every item that comes on the menu,” he said.
Klubnikin replied belligerently to the proposal.
“You are trying to hide something, and this is your swan song before you leave — flipping the bird to your constituency,” Klubnikin told supervisors. “That’s not going to go over as good as a turd in a punchbowl.”
Supervisors also changed their policy to now require that members of the public submit a request form before speaking. County Council Nick Chrisos said the requirement is legal because the form indicates that providing a name and home address is optional.
Supervisors acknowledged that the new time limit could affect Westminster resident Darrell Nolta, who often makes suggestions about several agenda items.
“It really was a tough call for me,” said Campbell. “He’s found good stuff.”
The new rules do allow speakers to be granted exceptions to talk about more than three items.
“There’s discretion that’s allowed here, and I think that that’s important,” said Supervisor Pat Bates, who joined Campbell in changing her mind to support the limit.
Not everyone appreciates Nolta’s comments, however.
“Darrell, frankly when you get up here, I can’t find anything worth listening to half the time, because all you repeat to me is what’s in the paper, what happened last time and remind me that you’re here again,” said Nelson.
Nolta fired back: “I strongly dislike your comment to me, Mr. Nelson, that I’m confused. I am not confused. In my years at the Board of Supervisors I have stated very clearly that I am opposed to very important things.”