SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday for the first time since voting last week to change public comment procedures.
The move is to try to curb threatening or racist speech during the sessions, sparked by a Nov. 2 meeting that involved speaker, Jason Robo, taking aim at three supervisors who voted last month to approve a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for new hires in the county. Robo compared one county public health official to Aunt Jemima and told another supervisor he’d like to see her “hang from a tree.”
“Saying I’m racist when I’m attacking someone’s character, it is totally ridiculous,” said Robo at Tuesday’s session. “I’ve gotten death threats, so I guess we have something in common now.”
Robo is responding to the new rules put in place after he made racist comments directed toward top public health officer Wilma Wooten.
“I think they used me as an excuse for them to inhibit the inconvenience of the public comment,” he said.
The new rules include the reading of policy on discrimination and harassment into the record during every meeting; prohibiting disruptive conduct like loud or threatening language, whistling, clapping or interrupting other speakers and limiting public comment to one minute per person if there are more than 10 people signed up to comment.
It didn’t take long Tuesday for the dialogue to digress into insults.
“These rules that you created in response reveal your cowardice and desperation,” Robo said at the podium. “This is not to protect your staff — you are a staff infection, in my opinion.”
Audra Morgan, another speaker, told the board that “people are dying and you’re ignoring that.” After making her comments, she said an expletive and continued to yell as she left the podium, forcing Chairman Nathan Fletcher to warn her for being disrespectful and disruptive.
In all, three people were removed from the meeting due to disruptive behavior. Outside the County Administration Center, Morgan explained why she is so passionate about her fight against vaccine.
“I was paralyzed for eight years from a spinal tap and, so for me, informed consent is very important and they don’t tell you you can be paralyzed from a spinal tap” she said. “But it took eight years of my life, so I don’t want to see children going through the same thing.”