DALLAS (KRLD/CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas County Commissioners may soon set some new rules for themselves. A judge wants the conduct policy updated to include limits on what commissioners can say during meetings.
The policy change proposal comes after last week’s chaos during the weekly Commissioner’s Court meeting. That’s when an argument between Commissioner John Wiley Price and a citizen, ended with Price repeatedly telling several citizens to “go to hell.” But before a formal change comes down the wire, security measures will be heightened for Tuesday’s meeting. Red tape now lines the lobby outside the courtroom and extra deputies have been called in for security, as well as providing escorts for some commissioners.
Last week, after several citizens addressed the court about the recent controversial departure of county Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet and a speaker made a reference to Price as “the Chief Mullah of Dallas County”, Price said to the group “All of you are white. Go to hell!”
As it stands, if a citizen goes to Commissioners Court there are rules that dictate they act, dress and speak a certain way. A court visitor can’t attack the commissioners verbally or make threats against the government, but the commissioners can say what they want.
“There’s been political bullying we just want it to stop,” said Dallas Tea Party spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, who said the group plans to picket outside Tuesday’s meeting. “Tomorrow’s event is really going to be the public just standing up and saying, ‘that’s really inappropriate, we don’t appreciate it, there should be an apology. We need to figure out how we can work together.”
Price repeated, “go to hell” three more times as he stood to leave the meeting. An unknown member of the audience said, “You should be ashamed!” “I’m not ashamed!” Price answered. “I’m not ashamed! Go to hell!”
Under the new rules, Price could have been charged with disorderly conduct and removed from the meeting.
New Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is pushing for the new conduct policy. Putting limits on commissioner’s behavior has been proposed before, but it has never been approved.
There could be a vote on the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting.
In emails, Dallas Tea Party members urge restraint on the picket line and promise their protests will be respectful. They have that outsiders – they call them ‘infiltrators’ – will try to make them look bad.
“But I think what’ll happen is, you’ll have enough people there that will speak out for the Tea Party movement and maintain the integrity of the movement and try to identify those who are not part of the movement who may be speaking out in terms we don’t really agree with,” Pierson said.
While not specifically concerned with Tea Party protestors, Commissioner Maurine Dickey nonetheless believes a security upgrade is overdue.
“I think that we do need to have control of how many people can come in, I think we need to use metal detectors…as you would in any public building,” she said. “This isn’t singling out taxpayers, this is just common sense stuff that belongs in the 21st century.”