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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Brinkman Says NO: Citizens May Not Yield Time For Public Comments

Mr Brinkman Gags Free Speech

Kurt Brinkman:
I'll not be having the likes of councilwoman
Asher telling me what to do.
Council meeting attendees Tuesday night witnessed an unseemly spectacle: council member Kurt Brinkman, acting as mayor in mayor Jennifer West's absence, moved to silence a citizen called on to speak by another council member and then forbid a different citizen from yielding her speaking time.  The silenced citizen, Mayor West's husband, Adrian McGilly was making a PowerPoint presentation about a contentious issue in which he was offering criticisms of the city staff when Mr Brinkman cut off the presentation, citing a three minute public speaking limit.  Mr Brinkman curtailed the presentation despite the fact that his colleague, council member Jac Asher had personally requested more time to see Mr McGilly's power point presentation.  After Mr McGilly returned to his seat, another citizen announced she wished to yield her speaking time to Mr McGilly but councilman Brinkman said he would not allow it.

And so council member Kurt Brinkman, upon hearing criticisms of the city staff from the citizenry, in one fell swoop moved to disavow two important and longstanding Emeryville free speech precedents; the championing of a citizen's idea by a fellow council member and the yielding of speaking time from one citizen to another.

Too much of this kind of thing is dangerous.
Councilman Brinkman's rebuke of councilwoman Jac Asher's wish to hear the rest of the citizen presentation Tuesday night marks a low point in Emeryville city council collegiality but more egregious was the denial of a citizen yielding her time.  This is a practice allowed in Emeryville by other council members in the past and furthermore, our neighboring cities have provisions to allow it.  To see Mr Brinkman now arbitrarily move to censor this type of citizen stakeholder engagement reeks of executive hubris.

We say this issue of citizens being free to yield their speaking time is not finished with Mr Brinkman's dictatorial edict Tuesday night.  The fact that time yielding has been allowed in the past here means that individual council members are now taking the initiative to silence citizen speech they may not like and the Brown Act is clear about this kind of stifling of unpopular speech: council members don't enjoy that level of freedom.  We will challenge this.  Stay tuned.

A video of the event can be viewed on the Emeryville Property Owners Association website HERE.


  1. Brinkman seems to be developing an M.O. He does everything Nora Davis does. Good little lap dog for her.

    1. You said it (whoever you are)...not me.

  2. I don't see why people can't cede their time. If someone I agree with is doing a good job expressing what I want to say, I should be able to give my time to that person. I don't know why this Councilman thinks it's something to be stopped. I want this changed too.