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[whitespace] No audience for Davis' 'last word'

Los Gatos--Ray Davis made good on his pledge to have the last word, unfortunately for him, there was no one left to listen.

The Los Gatos Town Council, with no discussion, voted unanimously Oct. 16, to amend the town code to address "willful interruptions of public meetings." The revised ordinance states that anyone who, after being told to stop by the chairperson then continues to disrupt a meeting, will be removed from the council chambers and charged with a misdemeanor.

While no council member would state it directly, the ordinance comes in response to eight months of very active public participation by Orinda transplant Ray Davis. Davis, who speaks on most agenda items at the majority of public meetings, is known for his scathing critiques of town staff, council members and anyone he sees as representing the "private interest."

Few question the World War II veteran's knowledge of the town's public documents, but council members have said people report feeling intimidated, threatened and belittled by Davis' dramatic behavior. Davis frequently addresses specific people in the audience and, on rare occasions, interrupts council members, staff and other speakers.

At the request of Mayor Steve Blanton, the town attorney brought the council an amended ordinance addressing willful interruptions to the council's Oct. 2 meeting. Davis spoke out against what he described as "the criminalization of applause" and was supported by at least one other audience member. The majority of those who spoke at the Oct. 2 meeting, however, were in favor of the new rules. The council asked the attorney to bring the ordinance back with an additional clause adding "violations of rules of conduct established by the town council" to the list of punishable offenses. A similar ordinance was placed on the books in Orinda, following Davis' arrival.

Davis adhered closely to the three-minute speaking limits on Oct. 16, waiting until almost 11:30 p.m. to speak his piece on the new ordinance, which he had pulled from the consent calendar. By the time the matter came up, only the council, staff and soon-to-be town manager Debra Figone were around to hear Davis speak.

Davis singled out council members Linda Lubeck and Blanton, both of whom previously said Davis was a disruptive force. Speaking to Lubeck, Davis criticized her "personal attack" against him at the previous meeting.

"Ms. Lubeck, in my opinion, you are a woman without any integrity, personally, and without personal integrity there can be no public integrity," he said, adding, "that's a 'Ray Davisism.'"

But Blanton got the worst of Davis' speech, being called a liar and a slanderer. Davis, comparing Blanton's attempts to "control" the public with the beginning of the Nazi regime, announced that he and the mayor were officially enemies.

"I've been through this numerous times in various communities with people like you," Davis said, "and I will take your scalp, politically."

No one on the council responded to Davis' comments, and the council quickly passed the amended ordinance. Following the meeting, Blanton said he was not surprised by Davis' dramatics and that it would have no effect on how the council operated in the future.

"I saw no need to get into it with him," Blanton said. "The depth of his venom [at the Oct. 16 meeting] is really a measure of the success of this ordinance."
Nathan R. Huff

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Web extra to the October 26-November 1, 2000 issue of Metro.

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