Fitzgerald Doubles-Down On Nasty

Earlier in the evening, during the general public comment period, notorious churl William Fitzgerald surprised veteran Anaheim City Council watchers by getting through an entire rant without really calling anyone a name.

A few minutes ago, during public comments on the Anaheim Convention Center expansion, Fitzgerald doubled down, reprising his gutter insults from last week and – if possible — descending further into the grotesque with comments directed at the three female councimembers that I am not sure I am willing to repeat here.

Mayor Tait pounded the gavel and interrupted Fitzgerald repeatedly in an attempt to get him to quit, in the Mayor’s words, “being a jerk” but Fitzgerald was not to be deterred.

It may be true that nothing can be done in the face of Fitzgerald vicious rhetoric. I concede to not knowing the answer. Common sense tells me that turning off the mike is no greater interference with a speaker than banging the gavel and repeated interruptions to ask for civility. In response to comments by Councilwoman Lucille Kring, City Attorney Michael Houston pledged to report back to council with research that leads him to believe turning off the microphone is not an “appropriate response.”

22 comments

  1. We shall see what they do when he uses the
    C word or the F word!

  2. At least Tait reacted

  3. How wonderful that the disgusting and despicable William Fitzgerald was on hand this evening to rant against expanding the Anaheim Convention Center. Every local resident owes him a thank you for identifying the female members of the city as sluts and whores. What a guy.

    Assuming that this project is approved, medical conventions will soon meet in Anaheim–providing a timely opportunity for William Fitzgerald to receive the psychotherapeutic help his depraved mind needs.

  4. The good news on last night’s performance by Mr. Fitzgerald, is that this time instead of facing five elected leaders hog-tied by insane rules enabling the one and only environment which forces women to endure sexual harassment as a job requirement, old Fitz pulled his act in front of a packed house filled with union workers who were very grateful for those offering them potential employment. Rather than the usual reception of shock, horror, and disgust, this time he was met with open hostility, presented by some good-sized guys who earn a living lugging pretty heavy stuff around. The self-described leader of “thousands of members” was sent the message he was NOT welcome, by those who could back up the message without much effort. (Quick note to Fitzgerald; If you count the voices in your head as “members” of your group, you should at least collect dues from them.)

    As he exited the room, I did not bother to watch. I don’t want to be asked to identify who might have slipped out after him. But I do wonder if he might not have been “redirected” in his remarks before making it out to the parking lot…or perhaps IN the parking lot. I don’t wish harm to anyone, not even Fitzgerald (although he brings me about as close as I want to allow my darker side to get) but it would be a good thing for him to at least see the flip side of the fear he causes others.

    What a scumbucket. Worst I have EVER seen him in all these years.

  5. The mayor and council members are hog-tied? Why is it that I watch council meetings of other cities and witness the mic go dead when persons such as Fitzgerald vituperate? Please cite the law that requires the airing
    of Fitzgerald’s blathering via the city’s webcast? Maybe the folks in attendance must listen, but why are his bad-mouthings aired?

  6. I’ve been researching the legality of shutting off the mic in public comments and have yet to come across anything that requires a public speaker to have a microphone. I’m delighted that Tait finally showed some backbone and warned Fitzgerald in advance of his first public address and used the gavel to call him a jerk. Its unfortunate Tait allowed little kids to hear the hate from Fitzgerald at the last meeting while Tait sat on his hands.

    Kring and Murray also got a nice round of applause, as they were singled out, they are allowed to respond. If anyone has anything, please post it.

    Why is it Tait is never the subject of Fitzgerald’s rants?

    • I’d rather not get into the depths of that mind. I’d suggest that no one ought to care what he thinks or why, but suit yourself. If I had to guess, I think he’s doing it for attention, which we seem to be giving him plenty of.

      What you do for one speaker, you must do for all. So, sure, the mic can go, but it must go for everyone. Here’s a start on mics that’s local and very similar in nature. Fairly balanced take in the link, but there’s lots and lots out there from either side.

      http://firstamendmentcoalition.org/2010/10/district-attorney-warns-carson-mayor-to-cool-use-of-mute-button-to-silence-citizens/

      Short take: The speaker MUST be causing an disruption (think yelling fire, or perhaps more appropriately going over the allotted time.) What qualifies as a disruption is narrow and the hurdle is very high. The mayor cannot use the button based on the content of the speech, which is what you’ve repeatedly suggested.

      If you’re unhappy with it, blame Sacramento. If they want to broaden the scope of limiting public speech to include obscenity and other content based issues, that’s really on them.

      If you insist this really is the purview of the mayor, you’ve got to ask yourself how much of Anaheim taxpayer money are you willing to spend to get a court to attempt to define new precedent to allow the limitation of the public’s right? I don’t live there (and neither do you), so I’m not willing to make that demand.

      Finally, if this guy is really going beyond a simple insult, there’s no reason the subjects of his rants can’t sue him. Perhaps that’d shut him up. But really, we’re all aligned on what the problem is here. Can’t we all agree that a part time mayor ought not to be an expert in constitutional law?

  7. Gov Code 54954.3: Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body

    Seems as long as the council hears, no need for the rest of the world to have to endure him. Why isn’t this happening?

    • Nice thought, but that’s not how it works. You’d have to strip the mic from everyone.

      • Not so. Jack did not cite the entire paragraph: “(a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”

        Many of the nouns and noun phrases used by Fitzgerald have nothing to do with subject matter the council addresses.┬áTo my knowledge, the council has never met to discuss or vote on an ordinance regarding Ss or Ws, favorite Fitzgerald topics. Thus, when he wanders off-topic, Mayor Tait has the authority to end Fitzgerald’s diatribes posthaste.

        • He’s within the boundaries of a limited public forum critiquing the decisions of members of the siting body. It’s ugly and disgusting, but that’s where it’s going to fall. This has been decided several times before by the courts.

          In any case, using the rule you cite, the mayor would have to consistently apply the same rule to every speaker (as would his predecessors). It’s largely unworkable.

          But hey– read the case law yourself. Maybe you can find a way to qualify his language as creating an actual disturbance. I doubt it, but it’s possible.

  8. (a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision (b) of Section 54954.2. However, the agenda need not provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body on any item that has already been considered by a committee, composed exclusively of members of the legislative body, at a public meeting wherein all interested members of the public were afforded the opportunity to address the committee on the item, before or during the committee’s consideration of the item, unless the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard the item, as determined by the legislative body. Every notice for a special meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the notice for the meeting before or during consideration of that item. (b) The legislative body of a local agency may adopt reasonable regulations to ensure that the intent of subdivision (a) is carried out, including, but not limited to, regulations limiting the total amount of time allocated for public testimony on particular issues and for each individual speaker. (c) The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body. Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law. – See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/GOV/1/5/d2/1/9/s54954.3#sthash.G2kCjgdg.dpuf

    I don’t see a single sentence in there than mandates the use of a microphone to address a legislative body. He can say whatever he wants as long as he shouts it long enough.

    Its about time Tait showed a little testicular fortitude to actually preside over the meeting. he was a little slow with the gavel.

    • Nothing in the Brown Act mandates the use of a microphone; however, you can’t give one speaker preferential treatment over another– particularly based on the content of the speech.

      What you’re proposing is no different than giving Fitzgerald one second to speak and everyone else three minutes.

      Look, you and I can argue this to death and you can continue to ask the mayor of Anaheim to make illegal decisions.

      Talk to a lawyer you trust, Dan. You’re clearly not willing to listen to anything I have to say.

      He can’t just turn off the microphone. End. Of. Story.

  9. there is nothing in the Brown Act that says speakers can be treated equally; when you say something of merit, I’ll listen but its mostly argumentative crap

    • Hey, look everyone! More decency and humility from Dan Chmielewski!

      Rather than rake you over the coals, which you deserve, I’ll suggest that you do a little reading on rules governing limitations of speech in a public forum.

      This specific point isn’t about the Brown Act. Again, talk to an attorney you trust because it’s really unlikely you’re going to accept any input from someone you don’t.

      Let us know how it goes. I’d prefer a beer as your apology, but I’ll take a coffee if you’re so inclined.

  10. I spoke with a former mayor about this today (not a former Anaheim mayor). Tools exist to minimize bombastic individuals without restricting their free speech rights. Its all about the presiding officer actually managing the meeting effectively.

  11. Yes. It exists and can be used but should be used rarely. In the case of Fitzgerald, unless he personally apologizes for his comments especially the “multiple abortions” comments, I’d shut it off.

  12. It falls to the City Attorney to advise the body on legal matters, the Mayor is not permitted to “guess” at what he may or may not do as Chair of the meeting. Oddly enough, we just saw Michael Houston say nothing while the City Council voted to Bond against City assets with the General Fund at risk, after they were warned by an attorney prior to the meeting that it violated the City Charter which requires a public vote for Bond. So Michael Houston selects those issues he is willing to take chances litigating, and confuses the Heck out of me. Frankly I would like to see Tom discuss some of these issues with an attorney outside of Michael Houston’s reach but I don’t make those calls. I don’t feel as though Houston is looking out for the best interests of the people of Anaheim (by a bunch) but that is another discussion.

    Back to Fitzgerald, he is clearly doing this to get attention, and the more inflammatory he gets the more he GETS the reaction he wants, especially from Lucille. So it might be a good idea to find peer pressure type reactions from the public to send the message his behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I considered buying a bulk pack of ear plugs and handing them out at the next Council meeting, so when he steps up to the microphone he gets the right to speak but we make it clear we have the right to not listen, and 100 people putting bright orange ear plugs in might do that. Or letters sent to Anaheim HOME (wherever the mailing address is, I assume his home?) and while I generally do not like picketing at private residences, if that address is used as the mailing address for an organization then one has no other choice of location, and perhaps a good old fashioned picket that puts his hateful words on some signage for neighbors to enjoy might enlighten him to how distasteful it is. The appropriate reaction to the neighbor who lets their dog poop on your lawn is to bag it up, ring the doorbell, and return the “gift”…

    And James Robert Reade, nuns have to be A) Catholic and B) celibate. I qualify on neither count, but some of the finest women I have ever known were the Sisters at St Catherine’s who got hold of my kid and made a decent human being out of him, (BTW, that might be the answer for Anaheim’s gang problem, we hire St Catherine’s to go into the ‘hood) But I consider it an honor that you would include me in their potential company. You have a lovely day yourself, sir.

  13. The guy is a fraud; he doesn’t represent “thousands of homeowners.” How about a little honesty from this bozo?

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