Contra Costa Times: Richmond councilwoman wants to ban vulgar residents

blogimage.jpgFIGHTING WORDS IN RICHMOND: The Eye is a veteran of thousands of hours of Richmond City Council meeting viewings, a weekly practice that tests one's endurance and tolerance for vituperation, boredom and complexity, often in a single six-plus hour session.


Now, Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, is ready to probe the boundaries of the First Amendment in an effort to tamp down the hate, particularly anti-gay slurs that have been tossed around by a few residents. On Tuesday, the council is expected to vote on Beckles' proposal to enforce a six-month ban on anyone who disrupts a council meeting with vulgarities or other mischief.

The proposal, circulated widely before a June 24 meeting, prompted predictable backlash from Beckles' critics.

Councilmen Corky Boozé and Nat Bates attacked Beckles at the meeting, accusing her of using the "F-word" toward Boozé at a previous meeting. Beckles responded by telling the 70-year-old Boozé to "grow up," then rhetorically wondering "why folks insist on making an issue about a conversation between myself and another adult."

Beckles then took to Facebook, during the meeting, to write, "Did anyone besides me notice when I asked Corky to tell the audience what I REALLY said, he changed the subject?"

Beckles' Facebook post did not go unnoticed by critics in the audience, who chastised her for her multi-tasking. Councilman Tom Butt also posted several photos and comments during the meeting. Full disclosure: The Eye, while covering the meeting and writing a complex story about the city's budget, also posted a torrent of tweets and Facebook posts during the meeting.

However, the councilwoman wasn't done. The next day, she took to Facebook again.

"Fascinating how some make a big deal about the fact that I called Corky to his face; to him (not the public, not on a blog, to his face, during a recess he caused after disrupting the meeting) an effing idiot," she wrote.

The Eye will have to go out on a sturdy limb to predict that Beckles' proposal to ban residents from council meetings for six months after vulgar disruptions will incite a flurry of, well, vulgarity, not to mention a lot of social media chatter.

WORLD CUP FEVER: The Eye spotted a strange-looking taxi near the Walnut Creek BART station on Thursday morning. Across the hood of the car was draped the colorful flag of Algeria.

When The Eye caught up with driver Amar Belkessa, of Walnut Creek, he explained the recent modification to his blue Toyota Prius. With Algeria taking on Russia in the World Cup, Belkessa was cheering on his favorite team as he worked.

When asked about Team USA, Belkessa explained that he wanted the United States to go far, but his team was Algeria.

STAYING ACTIVE ON AND OFF THE FIELD: The Eye is not easily distracted, especially when watching "The Captain," 13-time All-Star New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, during his recent farewell tour stop at Coliseum.

Also demanding attention at the Yankees-A's game on June 14 were yoga moves by Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, and -- during a 38-minute game delay because a bank of lights failed -- frenetic dancing by a group of fans in the plaza section and by a 70-something kettle corn vendor.

During breaks throughout much of the game, Ichiro performed an Eye-popping yoga-Rama, folding up his 5-foot-11, 40-year-old frame like origami -- lunging, squatting, spiraling and downward-dogging in ways hard to describe.

When the lights went out and Ichiro and the other players left the field, the kettle corn hawker started bouncing and shimmying while shouting out to "get your corn here." Even the fans who weren't dancing were entertained and amused.

Staff writers Robert Rogers and Susan Pollard and correspondent Lou Fancher contributed to this column.

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