Monday's City Council was sedate until Danny Dunn came to the microphone.
There was polite applause when animal activist Lilas Borsa Donahue thanked the governing for tightening up an anti-tethering ordinance and more when Siddeeq El-Amin spoke about New York City suspending alternate side of the street parking to accommodate observers of many diverse religious holidays.
Council business went quickly, with unanimous agreement on everything.
Danny Dunn no sooner came to the microphone in the second public comment segment than he began attacking Councilwoman Rebecca Williams, who was the acting council president in the absence of Cory Storch. Williams stands for the Pledge of Allegiance but does not recite it, for which Dunn condemned her at length. Dunn's remarks clearly violated the guidelines for public comment that forbid "personally offensive, derogatory or abusive remarks" and as acting president she could have shut him down or had him removed. Instead, she smiled through his attack and he pivoted to another topic.
"I represent the least of these," he boomed, talking about children in the Fourth Ward at risk from speeding cars.
"Get those kids out of harm's way," he thundered, talking about temporary speed humps that had been removed.
Dunn claimed officials were only concerned about "the haves," and alleged discrimination against the "40 percent," presumably the have-nots. Alluding to a "Gestapo perspective," he said, "We don't want no part of Fergusons here."
As Dunn ranted on about other topics, someone shouted from the back, "Sit down!"
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Bridget Rivers later explained that the $6,500 devices had been vandalized by neighborhood residents themselves and had to be removed for the safety of drivers. She said she will be meeting with leaders of the Joanne Hollis Complex (named for her late sister, an activist and resident of the former West End Gardens complex ), to encourage them to speak up when people damage the speed humps.
Public Safety Director Carl Riley said there are no other speed humps available in the city. First & Fourth Ward at-large Councilman Barry Goode asked when the speed humps could be replaced, but Public Works Director Eric Watson said the budget had just been passed. He is looking for funds, he said.
Rivers said the city does not have $6,500 to replace the speed humps and she will be meeting with residents to discuss it. In the future, she said, she would like the city to get permanent speed humps.
El-Amin rose again to defend Williams' right to decline to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He reminded.everyone that there is no state religion, and everyone may believe as they see fit without being bullied about how they express their beliefs.He said some place their hand over their heart, but they are not obligated to do so. There are religions that do not pledge, he noted.
"When we hear people denigrate others for their beliefs, we should stand against that," he said.
The next City Council meeting is an agenda-fixing session on Tuesday, June 14, a week after the June 7 primary and on Tuesday to allow city Republicans to reorganize on June 13 by choosing officers to serve for two years. On April 4, Republicans could file for 68 committee seats, a male and female in each of the city's 34 voting districts. However, only eight Republicans filed for seats in four of the 34 districts.
The next regular meeting is at 8 p.m. Monday, June 20, in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.