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Crockett Mayor Attempts to Curtail Comments


Clonts Seeks to Silence Critics

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – During a meeting of the Crockett City Council held on Aug. 7, it was announced public comments would now be required to be agenda specific.

As the council session got underway, Crockett Mayor Joni Clonts addressed those in attendance about the protocol of public comments.

“I want to remind everyone, the purpose of our public comments section of our agenda is so the public can address the city council and voice their opinion about agenda items. I don’t want this to be used for an opportunity to advertise a platform or to speak about a city department or anything to do with our city,” the mayor said.

“To do that,” she continued, “make a written complaint to city hall or however you want to do that, and if you want it placed on the agenda, write it up, bring it to city hall and then the mayor – myself – will decide if it needs to be discussed or not.”

On the Aug. 7 agenda, item three states, “Comments from Audience or Council: At this time, anyone will be allowed to speak on any matter other than personnel matters or matters under litigation, for a length of time not to exceed three minutes. NO council discussion or action may take place on a matter until such matter has been placed on an agenda and posted in accordance with law.”

When the mayor concluded, the first person to address the council was Crockett resident Joseph Senegal.

Senegal said he would be speaking on behalf of his sister in regard to an incident which occurred last week.

On Tuesday, Aug.1, Senegal explained, when Citizens National Bank was robbed, his sister was awakened from her sleep “… by a loud thump on her door and her house being surrounded by SWAT. Basically, our police got it wrong. They got the wrong address.”

He said he had great respect for the job law enforcement does but requested the PD be “… more on the conscientious side. It really traumatized her and her family. You can imagine going to your front door and having guns drawn on you.”

Senegal added he didn’t want to see this type of incident happen to others and stressed his belief the rapport between the police department and residents of Crockett could be a little better.

The next person to speak was Billy “Hollywood” Groves.

“First of all, I’m in the city of Crockett,” Groves began. “I heard you try and limit us about what we could speak on. Let me tell you something, we were part of Crockett before you (Clonts) started coming to these city council meetings, which you just started doing after you were elected.”

Groves said he would continue to speak out on issues, regardless of what the mayor said.

“This is nothing against the police department. They did a great job checking that man (bank robber). It’s just that young lady was traumatized when they came to the wrong address. She’s a hard-working woman. That’s all we’re doing is speaking up,” Groves said.

“No one is going silence America,” he continued. “Not that crazy president nor anyone else will silence America.”

He added his belief the city of Crockett should change its existing marijuana laws to stay in step with the rest of the country.

“Crockett is behind in everything. Texas is behind in everything, including slavery. We’re drinking dirty water. We’re not going to just listen to the so-called leadership. We are going to speak out because when you speak …”

Clonts appeared to have heard enough and rapped the mayoral gavel to silence Groves.

“Write a written complaint and turn it in,” she said.

“Don’t try and suppress the people…” Groves said.

“We’re not trying to suppress …” Clonts said.

“That’s all that Republican and Donald Trump mess,” Groves said as he left the podium.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.