Posted: 5:27 pm Monday, April 29th, 2013
By Andrew Abramson
PBSO Deputy William McCray is removed from meeting
McCray argues with West Palm officers after being removed
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy William McCray, a former West Palm Beach police officer who has routinely criticized the mayor and commissioners at commission meetings, was kicked out of tonight’s meeting. It was the second consecutive meeting in which Mayor Jeri Muoio and commissioners cited the city’s “civility code” and removed McCray.
City Spokesman Elliot Cohen criticized McCray after the meeting, saying McCray knows the city’s rules. McCray, who was off-duty during the meeting, has repeatedly argued that the city’s rules are unconstitutional.
“McCray comes to every meeting and at every meeting he lobs personal attacks against members of the city commission,” Cohen said. “He was thrown out two weeks ago after being warned that he was violating the city’s civility code. He’s a smart man and he understands the civility code and he chose to come back two weeks later after being thrown out before just to make a scene.”
McCray denied that he was trying to make a scene.
“I wasn’t playing to any camera,” McCray said. “I’ve been doing this for at least three years at every commission meeting. I haven’t changed anything. They’ve changed. I was exercising my first amendment constitutional rights.”
Commissioner Sylvia Moffett said during commissioner comments that the city might have to let McCray and others say what they please regardless of the tone.
“It’s very painful when someone gets up and starts talking about one of the commissioners and really saying things we know to not be true,” Moffett said. “If you call that freedom of speech we need to address that, bite the bullet and allow three minutes of vitriol, three minutes of false stuff. I think with what we’re doing we’re looking like a city that isn’t allowing people the freedom of speech and I really don’t want that to happen.”
Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell disagreed saying that a person wouldn’t be allowed to say whatever they want at a Supreme Court hearing. Mitchell suggested the commission hold a public workshop to discuss speech at meetings.
“I don’t believe we violated first amendment rights,” Mitchell said. “We have rules and we ask people to abide by those rules and if they don’t then there are repercussions.”
Mayor Jeri Muoio closed out the meeting by saying no one’s first amendment rights have been violated.
“They have a right to say what they think or believe but they just don’t have a right to be rude and it’s the way in which they say it that we’re just not going to tolerate,” Muoio said. “Plenty of people come before us every other week who say a lot of really important things in a very respectful way. We just want to continue that.”