Council arguments need to be more peaceful

Published 8:42 am Friday, November 6, 2015

Let’s get real here. Something has got to give, concerning citizens’ recent conduct at Bogalusa City Council meetings.

What occurred at Tuesday night’s council meeting was totally unnecessary and simply over the top. When police officers are called to respond to a disturbance at city hall, it signals to me it’s time to do something differently.

Shortly after Tuesday’s city council meeting adjourned, I was just about to unlock my car door when I heard loud talking near the front of city hall. The loud talking soon evolved into yelling. I stopped and observed three uniformed Bogalusa Police Department officers and Deputy Marshal Lavon Seals attempting to calm down Damian Moss, who was obviously terribly upset about something that had transpired a bit earlier. The fracas moved from the front of city hall all the way to the parking lot.

Moss is the brother of City Councilwoman Tamira Moss-Smith, who also was trying to calm her brother and get him to leave before he would be possibly arrested.

I later learned Damian Moss and frequent city council critic Rebecca Ferrell had exchanged words near the entrance to the council chambers.

I understand emotions often run high during these meetings, but name-calling and blatant criticism of council members — regardless of their perceived competency — has simply gotten out of hand. I’ve never seen such vitriol lashed out at any other board meetings I’ve covered through the years in other cities and towns.

I’ve often heard some Bogalusa City Council meetings from years past had some knockdown and drag out rhubarbs, but is all that really necessary? I think not. We’re supposed to live and work in a nation of laws, where citizens can discuss their differences in a civil manner without spewing venom against someone they disagree with on a subject.

Maybe it’s time council members think about closing the meeting to those it knows will cause a disturbance. That should be a last resort, because every citizen should have the opportunity to voice their opinions, whether or not they agree with a particular subject. An individual who is barred from the meetings would be able to write his or her concerns and then submit them to the council for consideration at a later date.

Another direction could be a suspension of an unruly citizen’s attendance at council meetings. Let’s say a three-month suspension would be good to start off. That makes sense to me, instead of asking them to leave the premises time after time. I think attendance at council meetings is a personal privilege rather than a personal right. If you can’t conduct yourself in an orderly manner, then you have no business being there. Good people won’t come, if each meeting winds up like Tuesday’s did.

Oil and vinegar just don’t mix. Putting people together in the same room that obviously don’t care for the other’s opinion on anything and expecting them to play nice is ridiculous.

I hesitate to mention it, but with all the shootings happening around the country almost on a weekly basis, the metal detectors at Bogalusa City Hall should also be utilized before each meeting.

I don’t intend to cast aspersions upon anybody involved with Tuesday’s argument or other council arguments, but I’ve long thought the metal detectors should be utilized before every meeting. If they’re not going to be used, then that’s more wasted money. It’s better to be safe now than sorry later.

These are just a few of my thoughts. I’m sure there are other avenues that will allow civil discourse. That’s what council meetings are supposed to be about.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer with the Daily News. He can be reached at 985-732-2565 or by email at