There’s a fine line between passionate activism and disruptive behavior at public meetings, and Andres Mendoza crossed it last week.
Mr. Mendoza, a fierce critic of the Clark County School Board, was forcibly removed from a meeting of the trustees when he exceeded his three minutes of speaking time during public comment, insulted board members and ignored three requests that he return to his seat.
During his rambling rant, Mr. Mendoza, a former labor organizer who wants former university system Chancellor Jim Rogers installed as superintendent over the finalists recommended by the board’s search firm, said board President Terri Janison has a “brain the size of a pea,” called Trustee Carolyn Edwards “your majesty” and said Trustee Larry Mason was a “bump on a log.” School police escorted Mr. Mendoza out of the building when he refused to let the meeting continue.
“No one has ever been treated like I was,” said Mr. Mendoza, who claims police injured him. “Most probably because I am a minority.”
Public comment periods are central to open government, and taxpaying citizens must have opportunities to directly address their elected officials with their concerns. However, the public’s business can’t be carried out if one person is allowed to monopolize the comment period. Although the School Board deserves criticism for its oversight of the district’s administration, that criticism can be delivered constructively and succinctly.
Mr. Mendoza was not denied the ability to address the School Board. In fact, he was afforded more consideration than he deserved.
That said, his removal from the meeting was punishment enough, and a sufficient warning to other would-be disruptors. The misdemeanor charge of interrupting a public meeting that he now faces is as over the top as his monologue. The school district should halt Mr. Mendoza’s prosecution.