Tense moments in chambers

Published 10:20 pm Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Wednesday’s last City Council meeting before a Nov. 4 election in which four incumbents are running for re-election, there was plenty of rhetoric from all directions.

Three of the incumbents are opposed by a total of five challengers, and the meeting was marked by a few tense moments.

After a motion was made to continue a public hearing for a proposed funeral home to Nov. 19, frequent council critic Chris Dove stood in the first row of the audience to protest the hearing being continued by calling out, “Point of order!” and contending the law requires a public hearing to be held after being advertised.

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After being called out of order by Mayor Linda T. Johnson, Dove sat, and two police officers who always keep watch over the meeting approached him. One reminded him to stay seated and not to speak out of turn.

But he soon spoke up again, and the same two officers descended upon him again, along with Chief Thomas Bennett.

Bennett did the talking this time, telling Dove he had been called out of order four times and would be arrested if he continued.

“We don’t want to do that,” Bennett said.

Dove’s assertion about the public hearing was incorrect, city chief of staff Debbie George said. The city’s Unified Development Ordinance and state code require that a public hearing occur before a decision is made by City Council on certain types of requests, and require advertisement of the hearing, but do not prohibit postponing the hearing as long as the new date is also advertised, George wrote in an email.

Later, Dove spoke in the non-agenda speakers portion of the agenda and encouraged fellow citizens to vote for Kerry Holmes, a challenger in the Suffolk borough against incumbent Charles Parr.

While Dove held up Holmes signs, the camera was trained on the city seal in the council chambers. The mayor interrupted Dove to tell him campaigning for public office was not allowed.

Dove also said Parr has ignored capital improvements for predominantly black neighborhoods while ensuring predominantly white neighborhoods get them.

But Parr fired back during his comment period at the end of the meeting. He said the city spent more than $1 million covering ditches in Boston, a predominantly black neighborhood to which Dove referred. Other issues in the area are in the proffers of a pipeline development that is supposed to be doing them once it starts building, Parr said.

“For someone to say or insinuate that I’m a racist bothers me,” Parr said, later adding “I don’t want to hear that s—.”

The word was edited out in audio and video versions of the meeting posted online.