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MT: Pro-NDO Council Member’s Disrespectful Behavior Helped Rally Opposition

A Billings politician in favor of passing a nondiscrimination ordinance may have doomed the measure by mistreating her opposition.

As reported on Tuesday, the Billings City Council voted down the controversial NDO proposed by council member Jani McCall back in December.

Coverage of the story has popped up across the political blogosphere, and the Associated Press article originating from the Billings Gazette was picked up by the Washington Times and the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Becky Bird

Becky Bird

What has gone largely unreported throughout the process is the fact that a council member, seeking to advocate for the proposed NDO, very likely was a prime cause for the ultimate failure of the ordinance.

Council member Becky Bird has consistently chosen to  interrogate Billings residents who spoke in opposition to the NDO.

The disrespect leveled against so many by this one public official  motivated more opposition from citizens and conservative organizations.

One example is a video produced by the Montana Family Foundation which highlighted Bird’s poor treatment of opponents:

YouTube Preview Image

Councilwoman Bird seems to have chosen to make a counter-assault during Monday’s meeting.  As reported by Dustin Klemann of  KTVQ News, Jeff Lazloffy, President of the Montana Family Foundation, spoke in opposition to the NDO.

Councilmember Becky Bird asked how much he and the Foundation spent on a video criticizing Bird’s actions throughout the process and if the Foundation was “trying to intimidate” the council by getting the public to gain signatures for a vote.

Laszloffy gained applause when he said he had never met a public official as rude as Bird.

Mayor Hanel silenced the crowd and warned them.

This was the first instance since a July work session that the crowd responded.

Nearing 11 p.m., the line for testimony continues out the door,

shutterstock_176417930The article at KTVQ appears to be the only one in the state of Montana that mentions the verbal altercation between Lazloffy and Bird.

The brief account fails to convey the the full picture, which may not fully come to light until the video archive of Billings City Council meetings is updated.  At present, no videos have been posted since July 28.

Residents of Billings who were present Monday evening report the exchange in greater detail: Lazloffy’s comment was prefaced by a statement that, having attended “hundreds of  public meetings,” he had never seen a public official who was as rude as she.

Councilwoman Bird is reported to have walked out of the meeting after Mayor Hanel gavelled  to quiet the crowd’s response.

It was also reported that  Bird later attempted to verbally engage another citizen who spoke in opposition the the NDO, but she was “shut down” by the Mayor.

Michael Mattson

Michael Mattson is State Editor for Watchdog Wire - Montana. He is founder and Executive Editor of The Hellroaring Review, an online literary journal that focuses on very short ("flash") fiction, as well as The Hellroaring Report, a news aggregator focused on the Mountain West and Northern Plains. Contact Michael at Montana@WatchdogWire.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Hell_Roaring

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Categories: Courts & Law, Must Read, Regulation


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