Look at this video clip.
Follow it closely. It's from the most recent meeting of the Cherry Hill Township Council, the town's governing body. This clip of the meeting barely runs two minutes but it's seemingly quite revealing.
It's the public comment part of the meeting and begins with a resident (Valerie Katz) coming to the microphone to discus a problem that her neighborhood (Windsor Mews) has been having with a neighbor's dog.
Ms. Katz addresses Mayor Susan Shin Angulo and says "Madam Mayor, you offered to sit down to discuss trees[presumably with another neighborhood group] and you don't offer to sit down with our community."
The mayor seems triggered by this and at this point (about 15 seconds into the clip) the mayor loses it and starts shouting at the resident, accusing her of "disrespect" for "this organization". She talks over the resident shouting "Excuse me, I am speaking! I am speaking!" But bear in mind (as you can tell by the clock) that residents get only five minutes minutes to speak. This is the resident's turn at the mic. The resident can speak his or her mind and then, at the end of the five minutes, the mayor or any member of town council can respond if they so choose. That's the way it's supposed to work.
Here though, the mayor jumps right in, the words go back and forth and Ms. Katz refers to the mayor as "young woman" which seems to set the mayor off even further: "You don't know my age. You don't know how old I am. Don't think you can be my mother. Don't even go there and disrepect me" the mayor shouts.
It's ugly and it's unbecoming a public official -- any public official, let alone the mayor of a large, diverse, intelligent, sophisticated community such as Cherry Hill which is really the business and commercial center of South Jersey.
I've watched the mayor's response to the resident several times.
As a lifelong public relations practitioner, I was frankly embarrassed by the mayor's outburst.
Public service carries with it the responsibility to be mature and temperate in all your dealings with residents and taxpayers at all times, even (and perhaps more so) when you passionately disagree with a resident or when you feel a resident is not kindly disposed toward you or not treating you fairly. Obviously, it falls on you -- always -- to set the standard for appropriate behavior in such matters. It goes with the office of public trust that you hold.That shouldn't be complicated. That should be clearly understood -- clearly accepted by anyone holding public office. The resident (the taxpayer) is the customer, the client, the voter and the person who pays your salary. So, you need to hear the person out and listen attentively. Indeed, dealing politely with angry and/or disgruntled residents goes with the territory.
So, there really is no excuse for such behavior.
Having witnessed Mayor Shin Angulo's outburst here I can only hope that she has apologized by the time you read this.
And sadly, if this is the way the mayor treats a resident at an open, recorded, public meeting, I can't help but wonder how she conducts herself in private with the whole range of individuals that she interacts with on a daily basis.
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