Several people scolded elected leaders at City Hall on July 29 about comments made during the past few Livermore City Council meetings.
Tamara Reus said at the tone taken by the mayor, council members and people in the audience made the city look bad.
“What is happening to us? This is not worthy of our community,” she said. “Can we discuss our differences like adults, and disagree without being disagreeable? It is embarrassing and demoralizing. It discourages public input into the process.”
Cathy Streeter agreed.
“The reason people come to these forums is to speak to all five of (the city council members) at once,” she said. “If we weren’t passionate about Livermore, we wouldn’t come here to speak.”
Jean King said elected leaders and members of the public commented about her contributions to political campaigns.
“My only special interest is for what I believe helps make Livermore special,” she said. “I feel it is important to contribute my personal funds to causes and nonprofits in Livermore and the Valley.”
Sally Dunlop criticized the mayor for calling out names at the July 23 council meeting.
“That is very improper,” she said. “This is not a way to do things. This is public scorning, and everybody has an opinion. I hope you don’t do that again since it’s not very becoming as the mayor of the city.”
Asa Strout talked about hearing stories about misleading statements from initiative gatherers. “We expect honesty of our local news media. There is a lot of distrust. The theme in the local election should be honesty and transparency to make this discussion less contentious and more fact based.”
Karl Wente said everyone’s highest duty is to the U.S. Constitution.
“Civility — let it show,” he said.
Mayor John Marchand spoke about accusations on social media that the outreach process is discredited because he did not attend any of the meetings. He said he didn’t participate because various groups asked him not to attend because he might bring a bias.
Councilmember Bob Woerner asked City Attorney Jason Alcala what the law says about the right to record signature gatherers. Alcala said it’s an evolving area of law.
“The First Amendment has tolerated the action if the conversation is happening in public. There’s a lowered expectation of privacy in public conversations since cellphones are so ubiquitous,” he said. “Videotaping public conversations is treated differently from what the law has previously discouraged, which is the surreptitious audio taping of a private conversation. The individuals who are signature gatherers are bound by the California elections code not to misrepresent, so they can have a lowered expectation of privacy. Those taping should not show the petitions themselves or the signatures, and not capture the voters who are being solicited. We are not advocating anyone go out and videotape.”