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Mayor lets expletive slip during meeting

Eric Bever, frustrated with comments from the public, makes remark after criticism is directed at dais. He later apologizes.

July 19, 2012|By Joseph Serna

Frustrated with the audience's behavior at Tuesday's City Council meeting, Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever turned to a fellow council member and said, "I'm going to go home. This is bull [expletive]," a recording of the meeting shows.

"The crowds' apparent lack of interest in orderly conduct of the meeting caused me some frustration and led to my aside to my peer," Bever wrote in an email Thursday. "I apologize if anyone found my comment offensive."

Bever, who is termed out in November, was reacting to a wave of boos and grumbles from the audience after he cut off a woman who was trying to argue her point to him after her allotted three minutes for public comment was up.

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"My comment to my peer was in response to the audience's displeasure with my desire to maintain decorum in the meeting," Bever wrote.

Earlier in the meeting, Bever challenged another resident's complaint.

Cindy Brenneman used her three minutes to criticize a council rule that residents must address the entire body, not individual members.

She complained about a pattern of council members singling out critics in the chambers after they leave the podium.

"Each one of you is able to address each individual as they walk away," Brenneman said. "So I don't understand why we're expected and even told that we must address the entire council, which I'm doing right now, but you get to get your little digs and your little pokes in while we walk away."

She then criticized Bever for asking an previous speaker to limit comments to things relevant to the council.

"If it's not on the agenda and someone wants to come up and speak during public comment, who's to say what's relevant and what's not relevant?" Brenneman said. "It's all relevant to us if we're getting up here and speaking."

"OK, we'll talk about the solar system next week," Bever replied.

He wrote in the email that he was acquiescing to Brenneman's "insistence that anything and everything as relevant."

"You may or may not be aware that public comments need to be relevant to the scope of the council's work," Bever wrote. "If there is nothing we can do about a subject that is not relevant, and certainly, the comments which contained nothing but unfounded accusations did not meet that test, were not productive, and simply delayed the proceedings."

Later in the meeting, the mayor told audience members to "go home," as they filed out of the Council Chambers after disagreeing with a council vote.

“Why did I say that? Because the folks were hollering, and carrying on loud conversations as they got up,” Bever said. “Their item was finished, but the council still had a good number of items to get through. I urged them to go home so we could get back to work without further delay.”

 joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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