New Decorum Rules for Santa Ana?

Santa Ana City Council members are set to consider imposing new decorum rules on members of the public attending council meetings.

Their decision comes after the Santa Ana Police Officers Association sent a letter criticizing the council’s handling of a meeting in which anti-police protesters heckled and booed police officers who were receiving commendations.

However, a source close to the union said the subtext of the letter was police officers’ dismay over the lack of decorum at the council dais. Council members were chatting among themselves and leaving the dais other while officers were being recognized, behavior that officers found offensive, the source said.

Council members have for years been criticized for their decorum, and open meetings law expert Terry Francke has even said the chatting at the dais could be illegal under the Ralph M. Brown Act.

That criticism came to a head recently not only with the union letter, but also with Mayor Miguel Pulido’s constant cell phone use during the meetings. A video clip posted on the internet of Santa Anita resident Laura Perez lecturing Pulido for looking down at his phone while members of the public were speaking garnered more than 30,000 views, with hundreds of comments on the video slamming Pulido for disrespecting the public.

However, while the new decorum rules target members of the public by giving council members greater power to boot out meeting attendees, the new rules are not so strict against disrespectful behavior from council members.

The only rules in the ordinance aimed at council members are a reminder that council members should keep cell phone use at a minimum and refrain from “personal attacks” and “undignified language.”

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