Historic City News editor Michael Gold spoke with St Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver regarding last night’s City Commission meeting, where two regular and frequent speakers were asked to leave for causing disruptions.
One of the mayoral responsibilities is to chair meetings of the city commission and occasionally that means enforcing the rules of civility and taking steps to maintain decorum.
“I find it regrettable that two members of our community, who I respect, chose last night’s meeting to engage city employees in a shouting match,” Shaver told Historic City News. “No one in those chambers cares more about listening to residents, but that does not mean when it is someone else’s turn to speak.”
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Ed Slavin directed insults at city attorney Isabelle Lopez. The mayor corrected Slavin and instructed him to “cease and desist” his comments towards city employees. When the alarm sounded the end of his allotted three-minute time, he continued to speak, prompting the mayor to order him back to his seat.
Meredith Breidenstein, Director, Budget and Performance Management, was attempting to present action items for the commission through the third quarter of 2017.
About fourteen minutes into her presentation, talking in the back of the Alcazar Room rose to a level that it could be heard at the commission table. Mayor Shaver called for order so that the commission could conclude the meeting’s final agenda item. B. J. Kalaidi, the resident who the mayor heard speaking, raised her voice and told the mayor that she should tell the city employees to be quiet.
Shaver graveled Kalaidi’s comment. That provoked Slavin to join in the argument.
“I’m going to ask that Mr. Slavin and Ms. Kalaidi leave the room,” Shaver said, after explaining the action was something that she hoped she would never have to take.
Monday was not the first time that Kalaidi, Slavin, and others have complained about city employees and their distracting behavior at the folding tables in the rear of the meeting room.
“I appreciate Mrs. Kalaidi and Mr. Slavin’s frustration at times, but during our meeting is not the time or place to vent,” Shaver said. “I look forward to seeing both of them at our next meeting. They are welcome to participate, speak when recognized, and for their allotted time.”