Activist calls for boycott of City Council

JoAnn Robertson makes an impassioned appeal to boycott City Council. 
Staff photo JoAnn Robertson makes an impassioned appeal to boycott City Council. Staff photo

JoAnn Robertson has had enough. She was appalled at conditions facing elderly and disabled residents at Crescent Halls who spent the summer without air conditioning. Now she’s calling for a boycott of City Council in protest of its new public comment rules that went into effect in February—and that already have drawn a lawsuit.

At a press conference in front of City Hall October 14, Robertson called Mayor Mike Signer “a privileged white man,” who put a “higher value on efficiency and decorum” than on First Amendment rights. She blasted council for ignoring its own human rights commission and the citizens who objected to the implementation of a lottery for people signing up to speak at meetings.

“We the people demand that no [city] cameras be shut off,” she said, about an option now allowed. Nor does she like the mayor determining what is appropriate content, councilors no longer responding to citizens who speak, time limits on discussion of issues and the at-times increased police presence in council chambers.

Robertson has started an online petition to go back to public comment procedures before the new ones were implemented this year, and so far it has 79 signatures. She wants those who object to the new rules to join her at the Free Speech Monument in a boycott of the October 17 City Council meeting.

And she turned again to Signer and his concern about the dilapidated Landmark Hotel on the Downtown Mall. “I want to know how many times he’s been to Crescent Halls,” she said.

“Kristin Szakos and I were there the next morning after this came up at City Council for an hour and a half,” says Signer, “talking to property managers, looking at apartments and meeting with residents.”

Updated 5:30pm with comment from Mike Signer.

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