Former city commission candidate says meeting turmoil was planned

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Frustration filled Thursday night's city commission meeting. Conflict stemming from what Mayor Lauren Poe characterized as people not following the rules during public comment. One former city commission candidate was in attendance and says he saw a planned disturbance in the works.

Former 2012 city commission candidate Dejeon Cain was at Thursday nights meeting and says he saw city commission mainstay Debbie Martinez planning a disturbance.

"It's a disgrace that we will have citizens that will cause such whobackle. I've never left a meeting feeling so agitated and a lot of times its not what you see, its what you don't see, and when you see people telling this person to say this or telling this person to say that, of course, I'm going to have a different stance on what happened in that meeting," said Cain.

Debbie Martinez refutes Cain's claim, also telling TV20 she looks forward to coming to meetings to hear what everyone has to say.
Either way, Cain says it falls to the commission to maintain order.

"They even got a rule that if you spoke at the previous meeting that you need to allow other people to speak and then if there's time permitted he would allow you to speak, and you had people get up and speak when they had already spoken several times, " said Cain.

One current commission policy also forbids outbursts which include applauding. In a relative rarity, at least one person was removed from the meeting for doing so after being warned.

TV20 reached out to all city commissioners and Mayor Poe but no one agreed to an interview today. One item set to be discussed at the August 8th city meeting is a review of public comment procedures.


Frustrations boiled over at the meeting even before the votes took place.

During public comment, prohibited applause by resident Jo Beatty prompted Mayor Lauren Poe to have her evicted by a police officer.

There were angry denunciations by several other speakers.

"Every last one of you is a disgrace to the city of Gainesville,” Gainesville resident Jason Davis said.

But that led to indignant responses from some commissioners like Harvey Ward.

Because of the extended discussion over the budget and the fact a millage rate had to be approved tonight, other issues on the agenda were postponed to a later meeting.