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Local

Councilor Berates Citizen During Council Meeting
By Michelle Anderson
Jun 27, 2004 - 5:22:00 PM

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MILLINOCKET -- During discussion at the last town council meeting, citizen John DiCentes asked for the council to repeat what had just been said. In response, Councilor David Nelson cried, "Point of order, Mr. Chairman!" and then began to publicly berate DiCentes, directly, for not standing at the podium when speaking.

At that point, citizen Ken Anderson stood up and pointed out that the council should direct all comments to the Chair. He continued, referring to last month's budget meeting, "I believe this councilor has already been directed to do so."

Danforth appeared to be listening to Anderson but made no acknowledgement before moving on. DiCentes explained that he needed to understand what the Council was doing. Danforth asked several times if DiCentes understood now, to which DiCentes indicated that the question and tone were insulting.

After the meeting, Anderson pointed out that Nelson had had two other such outbursts, but that, as far as the public could tell, no change had been made.

The first such outburst was directed at Mary Walsh during the Recreation Department portion of the budget workshops. At the April 8 meeting, citizen and former councilwoman Money McGibbon stood at the podium and complained about Nelson's behavior, saying he had "attacked the recreation director."

At that time, Nelson said he didn�t think that he had been out of line, but that he would apologize to the Council and to the director of the Recreation Department if the other councilors thought he should.

At the May 27 budget meeting held at Stearns auditorium, Nelson lambasted McGibbon for speaking under her breath. At that meeting, former councilor Gordon McCauslin jumped up and made the point of order that Nelson's comments should be courteous and directed through the chairman.

There have been complaints in various venues that Danforth seems "unable or unwilling" to control Nelson.

"If the public is expected to follow the rules, the council should follow the rules," said Anderson. "The rules do not permit a councilor to chastize a citizen during the course of a public meeting," he added. "If he has something to say, he should go through the chairman."

(Roberts Rules of Order states, "All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment - avoid all personalities, never allude to others by name or to motives.")


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