During heated council sessions, verbal disputes are to be expected but in Sausalito some “shushing” led to a slap between council members as they were seated next to each other and the so-called “assault” has perhaps created an overreaction across the board. During a September 13th meeting, Councilwoman Carolyn Ford was unable to hear comments from city Public Works Director Jonathon Goldman, so she held up her hand and said “shush” to Vice Mayor Mike Kelly. The Marin Journal reports that then the following very adult exchange occurred:
“Kelly: "Don't shush me for Christ sakes," followed by a slap to Ford's hand.
Ford’s reply: "Don't hit me."
Kelly repeated: "Don't shush me. You put your hand on my side of the table."
Clearly it was not the council’s finest hour. The slap led Councilwoman Ford to press for an assault charge against Kelly, as she spoke to local police about the incident. Ford says there has been a pattern of abuse on the council and she released the following statement:
“The constant hectoring and belittling from my fellow members meets the threshold of abuse. ...Vice Mayor Kelly and Council member (Jonathan) Leone are verbally abusive. ... The mayor doesn't reign it in and he occasionally contributes to it. When I spoke to Mayor Weiner several months ago about the verbal abuse and his inability to get it under control, he suggested that I be more passive. ... I was reluctant to go public with this because it is embarrassing for the Council and the City as a whole.”
Ford is right that “embarrassing” is a good word to describe the whole affair. Kelly ended up issuing an apology for the hand-slap, stating the following:
“I responded to Councilwoman Carolyn Ford's gestures to silence me by inappropriately slapping her hand, something I have never done to anyone before and an act which is against everything I stand for. This was truly uncharacteristic behavior on my part. I am deeply embarrassed by my action and apologize to Carolyn Ford, and to the citizens of Sausalito."
The Marin Journal reports that the slap covers just the surface of ill will on the council, as “meetings have become contentious, with council members snapping at each other, bickering and fighting for microphone time. Sausalito politics is known for being rough and tumble.” More here. You can see video below: