AUBURN — A tussle over the microphone and who's turn it was to speak Monday night led police Chief Phil Crowell to take two men aside and instruct them about City Council decorum.
"Freedom of speech is tough, but it's something that we have to allow," Crowell said. "People need to have access to you and to be heard by the public. I also need to remind people that you (Mayor Dick Gleason) govern this meeting, and not others. For a citizen to try and move another citizen along is not proper behavior in our council chambers."
The incident involved Auburn residents Larry Morrissette and Webster Street resident Joe Malley.
Morrissette is a regular at Auburn City Council meetings, using the public comment periods to espouse his views on national and local politics and morality. He frequently ends his presentations with the benediction: "To my children, to your children, to all the women of the world, to all the men of the world, to our God, to the Christ, I love you."
Auburn schedules two public comment periods, at the beginning and the end of meetings.
Morrissette was allowed to speak uninterrupted during the City Council's first public comment but took the microphone before Mayor Gleason officially opened. He actually talked over Gleason and didn't hear Gleason say he was opening the floor to public comment.
"Now, I'll wait for the public comment period," Morrissette said.
"This is the public comment period," Gleason replied. "That was your chance."
Morrissette quickly sat back down, but before he could begin speaking, Malley approached and put his hand on Morrissette's shoulder. Morrissette sprang up, but Crowell separated the two before anything could happen.
"Larry just wanted a chance to speak," Crowell said. He said Morrissette was upset about being interrupted. No charges or complaints were filed.
Morrissette caused a disturbance in Lewiston's City Council chambers last week while trying to speak. That led Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert to declare the meeting in recess and leave the chambers until Morrissette had left the meeting.