Staff writers Denis Cuff, Paul Burgarino, Tom Lochner and Robert Rogers contributed to this column.
Eye on the East Bay: Council Bad Behavior
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 10/13/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
CITY COUNCIL BAD BEHAVIOR: Richmond's august governing body has held public meetings in recent months in a quasi-garrison arena, its packed council chamber prowled by armed police. Most see the situation as a necessary measure, given that packs of megaphone-wielding provocateurs recently have ground city business to a halt, and expletive-spewing troughs hurl invectives at the dais and each other.
Who is to blame? It would appear that both sides of Richmond's warring political factions bear some responsibility. On the one hand, loose-lipped Councilman Corky Boozé is an easy target, with his folksy flair and band of "Corky's Army" foot soldiers who specialize in chaos. But on the other side, among the preternaturally pious progressives, some blame may rest as well.
Police have issued seven official warnings to council meeting disrupters. The most prominent of the unruly was Juan Reardon, the fiery 62-year-old co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, the powerful volunteer political group that backs Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and has shaped city policy for years.
According to a police report, Reardon was ejected from the Sept. 11 City Council meeting after he "raised his arms in the air flailed them around in the air," and spat a series of obscenities at Boozé while the councilman spoke. The reporting police officer wrote that he tried to calm Reardon, but Reardon "looked at me and said 'You are not the governing body; the mayor is the governing body, and I don't have to listen to you!'"
In a curious twist, weeks earlier, Reardon himself used the public speaker's microphone to lecture residents who had been disruptive in prior meetings.