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Carson City Council Orders Mute Button Be Removed

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CARSON (CBS) — The innocent mute button of Carson’s city council chambers is on its way out, and the poor gavel could soon be fired, too.

Carson’s City Council voted to remove the technology that Mayor Jim Dear is supposed to be using to silence speakers who have gone over their allotted three minutes, according to the Daily Breeze. Instead, Dear has been accused of using it to cut off critics because he didn’t like what he was saying.

Mute buttons are a rarity in Southern California. David Demerjian, head of the district attorney’s public Integrity Division, told the Los Angeles Times he had never heard of a mute button being used by a mayor of any city in the county during an inquiry into the possible abuse of the mute button in 2010.

The inquiry was apparently triggered by a letter sent by a Carson resident who regularly speaks at city council meetings, the Times reported.

The council voted 3 to 1 to remove the mute button, which Dear claimed he only used when a speaker used profanity, racial slurs, or was taking too long or interrupting another person, according to the Breeze. Dear also said he has been favoring the gavel instead of the mute button.

City Councilman Mike Gipson has suggested also removing the gavel, but the issue has not been placed on Carson’s next city council agenda.

Carson City Council meetings have a history of drama. In 2009, a former mayor swatted a public works commissioner on the back of the head with a bunch of papers after speaking at a council meeting. In video posted on YouTube, a moment passed before the public works commissioner tumbled, screaming, out of her seat and onto the floor.

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