• October 22, 2014

Killeen council must re-establish meeting decorum

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Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014 4:30 am

Killeen City Council meetings have been lacking a key element lately — civility.

Tuesday’s volatile workshop meeting, in which Mayor Dan Corbin interrupted former Mayor Tim Hancock while he was speaking and told him he was out order, was at minimum a breach of etiquette. But when Corbin instructed a police officer at the meeting to escort the former mayor out, along with anyone else if they wouldn’t be quiet, it crossed the line of acceptable behavior.

Hancock’s response was no better, as he told the mayor, “You can’t make me be quiet.”

Granted, the issue was an emotional one — the proposed rededication of funds from the city’s 125th birthday celebration to help build the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting memorial.

But the meeting never should have gotten out of hand.

As a respected former three-term mayor and member of the memorial’s fundraising committee, Hancock should have been afforded as much time as he needed to make his case for the funds transfer.

But instead, just as Hancock was starting to address the council regarding the leftover funds, the mayor raised his hand and cut Hancock off, saying, “I think we understand those facts.” He then turned to address the city finance director regarding who the funds belonged to.

Hancock had a right to feel disrespected, and when Corbin quickly asked for a consensus on rededicating the funds — which the council subsequently rejected 5-2 — he felt the need to interrupt.

The resulting breakdown in decorum was unfortunate but avoidable — and ultimately an embarrassment to the city.

Once the dust settled, both Corbin and Hancock said they regretted how things turned out. Corbin said he would have used different language in trying to restore order, stating the meeting was out of order, rather than telling Hancock he was out of order.

For his part, Hancock tried to clarify a remark he made after the vote, in which he apologized to the council “for asking you to support soldiers,” which Corbin rightly called “offensive.”

Hancock later said his intention was to “say I am sorry that I have put you in this position,” not to call into account the council’s support of Fort Hood.

But an ill-advised comment by one council member seemed to do just that.

In arguing against rededicating the funds — which were originally planned for a fountain in 2007 — Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone commented that the money was raised for something for the city, and none of the Fort Hood shooting victims were city residents.

Whether the money should be rededicated is open to discussion. But to draw an artificial line between the city and those who died in an on-post shooting is inexcusable.

Fort Hood’s soldiers and their families are a part of our community, whether they live inside the city limits or not. To base a decision about funding a memorial on the victims’ perceived residency is simply incomprehensible.

Over the past two years, Corbin, who is not seeking re-election, has done a credible job running council meetings and keeping the focus on the issue at hand. But far too often, he has seemed to rush council members into decisions and marginalized some of the dissenting members in the process.

Mayoral candidates Scott Cosper and Dick Young attended Tuesday’s emotional meeting, and both said they would have handled things differently. Cosper said he “would go to great lengths to be courteous and respectful at all times.” Young said he would “listen and run the meetings ... not interject my personal feelings as mayor.”

Those are encouraging remarks, indeed.

Ultimately, Killeen residents need and deserve a council and mayor who are dedicated to advancing the goals of the community as a whole, while remaining receptive to their constituents’ needs.

Promoting an atmosphere of mutual respect during council meetings is an essential first step.

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Welcome to the discussion.

5 comments:

  • Baylor posted at 1:57 pm on Thu, Feb 27, 2014.

    Baylor Posts: 167

    Is Corbin from Killeen? If not, he needs to learn " this is Killeen brother! we can say what we want when we want! Ground rules-No profanity, ever thing else goes pal !

     
  • Eliza posted at 8:53 am on Mon, Feb 24, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 824

    In other words--There is no big belief in Freedom of Speech,
    Unless its One Sided.

     
  • Max67 posted at 7:24 pm on Sun, Feb 23, 2014.

    Max67 Posts: 63

    Some might remember that when Corbin first came on board as mayor, he was asked by the council to apologize to several dept. & division heads including, but not limited to, John Sutton, Ray Shanaa, Barbara Gonzales, and Amanda Wallace. His reported poor treatment of personnel and people in general was also alleged to have been at the detriment of a previous assistant city mgr. as well.

    It appears his "people skills" haven't improved. His inability to let people talk and communicate their thoughts (and his need to control what is said and heard) is likely tied to his deep-rooted insecurity.

    Someone more secure would be able to let people express themselves, knowing they're perfectly capable of addressing their concerns in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. They wouldn't feel the need to bully a former mayor (who is in his senior years) and anyone else who speaks up with the threat of removal by police officers.

     
  • Eliza posted at 12:38 pm on Sun, Feb 23, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 824

    @ . But far too often, he has seemed to rush council members into decisions and marginalized some of the dissenting members in the process.---


    Its been noticed by many, that far too many times ---These rush methods have been directed against Councilman Okray (which many deem, was because Okray being the major reason for the REcall of the city council (and rightfully so). Okray , is now 'picked on' at any opportune time.

    To a lesser degree Councilman Harris has been targeted since he came on board city government, and at times, Terry Clark who likes to question things that others ,from their attitudes, don't want questioned.
    Some have accused him of grand standing for political reasons, but I would rather have a representative that questions, then one who says nothing or ones that act as a puppet.

    However, Former Mayor Hancock should have been given the opportunity to state his case for the funds ,for one reason, out of respect for his age,
    and considering the subject he was speaking on behalf of.
    How much more time was he going to need, 10 Minutes ? Maybe ?
    What was it going to hurt to allow him extra time?
    I know meetings are to be run on a form of schedule ,but I have observed, the rules being broken at times in the past for other citizens.

    I have believed myself ,the funds raised should go toward what they were raised for, a fountain for the city, if that is still a possibility.
    That is why the people were ask to give donations.

    Otherwise, the city representatives would have requested donations from he public under False Pretenses .
    Who was Mayor and who were council members at the time donations were ask for from citizens?

    The military has stated in the last week,They will built a memorial for the fallen on the grounds on which they were attacked in 2009, a much more Symbolic means of Honor .

    No thought should be given that the war dead and injured ,weren't part of the Killeen community (which is a foolish and disrespectful thought in itself )

     
  • nulisecundus posted at 11:57 am on Sun, Feb 23, 2014.

    nulisecundus Posts: 99

    I met Corbin 1 time during our veterans day parade,can't say I was impressed!
    I believe he is a very racial person,no matter what kind of front he portrays he treats Mr okrey with no respect. spelled the name wrong, sorry Johnathon. [sad][censored]

     

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