Decorum ordinance proposed in Grantville
by W. Winston Skinner
From time to time, political pundits debate the wisdom and efficiency of legislating morality. In Grantville, there is a move afoot to legislate civility.
Grantville City Council meetings sometimes include shouting between people on the dais and those in the audience. There also have been barbs traded between elected officials.
At the most recent council meeting on Monday, Councilman Barham Lundy said there were so many police in the council chambers it was “like the gestapo.” Mayor Jim Sells told Lundy he was “a shame and a disgrace.”
“I could say the same about you,” Lundy replied.
“We all know that Grantville is often viewed as a laughing stock in Coweta County,” City Manager Johnny Williams stated in an email sent to city officials on Tuesday. "We should all be ashamed.”
Now Williams has proposed a decorum ordinance — a concept heartily endorsed by Sells. “After last evening’s session of city council, I am more convinced than ever that some measures must be implemented to maintain proper order and decorum during these important meetings,” Williams observed.
The ordinance would make it a misdemeanor for an individual to break decorum at a city council meeting or committee meeting. “This would give the police the power to arrest anyone breaking our decorum,” Williams explained.
The ordinance would apply to members of the public attending meetings, but also to the mayor, council members and committee members.
Williams said he is having a police officer placed behind the council bench next to the clerk “at all regular, special and committee meetings” of the council. “They will be instructed to remove any of our officials who do not come to order after being asked to do so by the presiding officer,” Williams stated.
“I know I’m part of the problem,” Sells said. He said he is willing to work at improving civility and sees a need for more decorum.
The current way of conducting the city’s business is “a disservice to the trust given to us by the citizens,” Sells said. “I’m going to have to apologize for my share of the blame.”
In his email, Williams welcomed input from the mayor, council and staff as the decorum policy is formulated and put into place. “I hope that this will bring order to these sessions, and allow for productive meetings,” he said.