Lots of Noise Over a Mute Button

The point is mute... or moot, depending on your point of view

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    It's been called a "very unique complaint."

    The district attorney's office is looking into complaints that the mayor of Carson is too quick on the trigger when it comes to his mute button. The mayor can use the button to cut microphones at public meetings.

    The complaint alleges that he is using the mute button to cut off speakers before they burn their allotted three minutes of free speech time. The DA's office said it's looking into whether Mayor Jim Dear violated the state's open meetings law.

    The mayor said he has done nothing wrong. He said the complaint comes from a political gadfly, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism."

    "It's a very unique complaint," David Demerjian, who heads the district attorney's Public Integrity Division, told the LA Times. "I have never heard of a mute button being used by a mayor of any city in the county of Los Angeles."

    The DA's office stressed this is an "inquiry," not an investigation.

    Back to that gadfly. In a letter to the city, Robert Lesley asked that the mute button be removed. The former cable access show host told the Times, "(Dear) used the power of that button to control my expression."

    With great power, comes great responsiblity -- all with just the touch of a button.

    But a council member said he, too, has felt the wrath of the mayor's mute button. Councilman Mike Gipson said he once brought a megaphone to a meeting -- just in case the mayor became trigger happy.