SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander began the public comment section of the Tuesday City Council meeting with an apology for her behavior during the meeting that took place on August 15.
"We have come to the part of the agenda that we all know and love. The public comment period," Alexander said. "I'd just like to start by saying it's no secret that this has become a very contentious part of our City Council meetings over the past several weeks and months, and it shouldn't and it needn't be that way."
"From the public's standpoint, we believe that you show up to make comments and suggestions to likewise make a difference," Alexander continued. But I think things have also gotten out of hand, and I take responsibility for that, because I have been more lenient than I should. Because our community has gone through a lot of challenges and a lot of very difficult issues, I was lenient and I allowed people to behave in ways that were not with decorum. And I accept that full responsibility as your mayor."
During the public comment period on August 15 Mayor Alexander scolded citizen Carolyn Logan for her comments, and even asked police to remove Logan from the meeting.
The following is the exchange between Mayor Alexander, Logan, and Salisbury City Attorney and parliamentarian Rivers Lawther:
Logan: My name is Carolyn Logan. It was totally disappointing to know that the council that governs the city not only makes the truth out to be a lie but also breaks state laws concerning public comments. Last City Council meeting I was once again the victim of having my constitutional rights violated. Councilman Brian Miller…
Alexander: Excuse me, you are out of order.
Logan: How am I out of order?
Alexander: You're out of order because you are saying things that are not true Ms. Logan. You can't sit here and talk about…
Logan: What have I said that is not true? I don't understand…
Logan: What have I said that's not true?
Alexander: Shhhh. You just said that City Council has done something outside of the law. This has been researched. We are fully within the law and I don't know where you get your information…shhh-shhh-shhh. Do not answer. I'm talking. Parliamentarian, would you please inform her that we have a right as council to set up guidelines as to what the decorum is going to be in this chamber. And you can speak as long as you follow those rules. But when…
Logan: What have I broken, what rules have I broken?
Logan: Parliamentarian, what rules have I broken?
Lawther: Well, your constitutional right...
Logan: What did I say last meeting that was wrong? I want you to explain to me so that I'll know.
Lawther: As I recall you attacked the mayor…
Logan: How did I attack her? Do you know the definition of attack? Everything…
(Note: In the August 1 meeting, Mayor Alexander ruled Carolyn Logan out of order and asked her to sit down. That followed Logan making an accusation that Alexander had overbilled the city on a construction project. "I want to commend the mayor for being a jack-of-all-trades," Logan said, "being the mayor I would have some kind of morals." "You're out of order because you are lying," Alexander responded.)
Mayor strikes gavel several times and says "remove her."
Logan: It's public record, it's on public record…(Logan walks off)
Alexander: We are not going to have this kind of public behavior in this place anymore Shhhh, (gavel hit twice.) Where is the police, where is the…will you escort her out? You're not going to speak here when you are lying ever again.
During Tuesday's meeting Mayor Alexander admitted that by addressing comments she has not followed the rules of decorum and contributed to the tension of the meetings.
After reading her statement, Mayor Alexander then read the entire public comment procedure ordinance.
Following the meeting, Councilman Kenny Hardin posted on social media that he did not think Mayor Alexander took responsibility for her actions.
"If anyone sat through this City Council meeting or watched it online and you still don't go out and vote, you get whatever you deserve after November. I have never witnessed such arrogance and callous disrespect for people. Wow," Hardin posted. "The Mayor blamed everything on citizens unruly behavior and took no responsibility for her actions or behavior."