The first City Council meetings of the month, where the main purpose is to hear from the public, have calmed down quite a bit in 2020.

The council started using a new format in January that calls for the City Council to conduct a limited amount of business at the meeting and also reduced the amount of time speakers have at the podium from five minutes to three minutes. The changes appear to have had a positive effect on how the meetings are conducted.

However, that doesn’t mean that there are not flare-ups and reminders of the out-of-control meetings of the past.

On Monday, March 2, Brian Watkins, who speaks at many of these meetings, refused to leave the podium when his three minutes were up.

After his time had expired, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “Thank you.”

Watkins said, “I would like a response to some of the stuff I said.”

And instead of leaving the podium he said, “Why Zared Jones has not been paid yet?”

Two security guards and a police officer surrounded Watkins and one told Watkins he had to leave the podium, Watkins said, “I’ll think about it.”

But he kept talking to the City Council and said, “I’d like some answers.”

Watkins also told one security guard who was not touching him, “Careful where you put your hands.”

Vaughan said, “Please leave.”

And Watkins did leave the podium, herded by the security guards and police officer back to his seat. Watkins didn’t leave the meeting but once he got back to his seat the security guards and police officer went back to their posts.

After the meeting on Feb. 4, Watkins said to this reporter, “If you print my name in your paper again you’re going to have a real bad day. Take that as you will.”

Before he left this meeting, Watkins came over the press table and said, “Remember what I told you about mentioning my name.”

In the past, when the Rhino Times has written about Watkins, he has picketed the Rhino Times office.