Letitia Pepper had been warned!
Do not clap after a speaker speaks at a public meeting, warned Rusty Bailey, Riverside’s rookie mayor, a well-meaning, platitudinous gent who’s proving to be 20,000 leagues out of his depth.
Pepper came to the meeting — to the City Council’s neighborhood, if you will — along with angry, frustrated and nerve-frayed UCR-area residents to describe what it’s like to live amongst hordes of UCR students who have turned their single-family neighborhood into a noise, alcohol, living-room partitioned, vomit-teeming Third World hell.
They came, for a second consecutive week, to ask the city and their esteemed elected representatives who have known about this, heard about this for years, to kindly do their jobs.
These were not radicals. These were not troublemakers or crackpots. These were long-time residents, some native Riversiders, some retired, a white-haired lady, a gray-bearded gentleman. Taxpayers. They were, in short, the very people the city should be serving and protecting.
The city, in the form of City Manager Scott Barber and City Attorney Greg Priamos, talked ever so briefly and vaguely of working groups (to which no neighbors belong), of ”tools” and of collecting attorneys fees from violators of ordinances the city doesn’t enforce.
But mainly, the city listened. And when some clapped after a speaker had spoken in a public meeting, when some dared to clap in the City Council’s neighborhood, the rookie mayor issued his stern warning: Clapping will not be tolerated. Clappers will be removed!
Letitia Pepper (and, yes, she can be an irritant, push the council’s most sensitive buttons) had been warned.
But after Judy Conn — a native Riversider, a retiree, a bright, articulate and frustrated resident – told the City Council, “We are ready to snap” and sat down, Letitia Pepper clapped. (Let the record show that she didn’t scream, yell, rev an engine, slam a car door or puke.)
It sounded (on the video) like a distinct, medium-decibel clap. And when the West Point-tested mayor heard it, guess who snapped. He did!
He ordered The Clapper removed. He recessed the meeting. The Clapper was arrested and handcuffed by the Riverside P0lice Department.
On reflection, I’ve been dead wrong about the city. It does respond to neighborhood disturbances; UCR-area residents should take immense comfort:
When The Clapper “disrupted” the City Council’s neighborhood, the city shut her down and shut her down fast.
Reach Dan Bernstein at 951-368-9439 or dbernstein@PE.com
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