Downey City Hall limiting public speaking


Citizens speak on matters concerning them. A motion was passed to slash speaking time from 5 minutes to 2 minutes on Jan. 28, 2020. Photo credit: Oscar Torres

Oscar Torres

Downey City Hall held their second meeting on Jan. 28 with the council members discussing and approving the reduction of public comments from five minutes to three.

This was not the first time that they tried to change public hearings, as last year’s city council proposed a limit as to how many times a person is allowed to speak during items and public hearing.

This limiting of time is allegedly in regards to the fact that regular attendee Armando Herman has been using profane language, racial and homophobic slurs during his rants and sometimes even calling out not just the city council, but other attendees as well.

The council was issued a five-minute break due to this constant rant. Herman was called out many times and even threatened to get kicked out of the meeting, but in the end he did not.

The vote for the approval of decreasing the time for public hearings was three votes saying yes and two votes saying no. The council only needed three to pass it.

After the vote has been decided, Herman just laughed and applauded, and walked from the exit doors back to his seat, earning some confused glances from the rest of the residents attending the meeting.

Alex Saab, council member of the city, stated about the approval of the decreased speaking time that, “We have to balance the right of the public to be able to speak vs efficiency and I know sometimes it’s difficult to really ascertain what is the right amount.

“The problem is you’re kind of unsure. I’m gonna view the side of giving the public more opportunity to speak. That’s why we should have not changed it, We should leave it the way it is. I also have a concern that we’re gonna kill speech by reducing it.”

They also said that “Just because we may have some speakers that heckle and saying some things that we may not want, the problem is by limiting the time although those people are going to be speaking less it’s also gonna affect the other 13,000 residents. As far as I’m concerned, we signed on the doted line we should be here to listen.”

“Giving people five as oppose of three i wanna vier on the side of giving people the opportunity to speak more than less.”

Most of the public did not like the change knowing that they have less time giving out their thoughts or opinions on an item that they do not like.

As of now until they decide to go back to five minutes, the maximum amount of time that a person is allowed to speak during public hearings or speaking up to an item is now three minutes.