Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
Dallas County Commissioners are calling for new rules of decorum to bring civility back to Commissioners Court.
Dallas County commissioners are proposing rules that would prohibit the kind of loud, angry arguments that erupt during Commissioners Court meetings.
The rules would regulate the behavior of commissioners and other participants. Verbal abuse, personal attacks and the interruption of people recognized by the county judge to speak would be prohibited.
Four of the five commissioners signaled support Tuesday for the rules, which were requested by Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield.
But at least two commissioners said the proposal's timing is suspicious -- just four weeks before Mayfield faces a tough re-election opponent.
“It’s political season," Commissioner Mike Cantrell said. "It’s campaign time, and people are going to bring up whatever they can to get on the news."
Mayfield has been in the thick of unruly meetings in the past few months that produced much of the very same behavior that would now be forbidden under the new rules.
“I think it’s very ironic that certain court members have moved forward on this,” Cantrell said.
During Tuesday's meeting, Mayfield bickered over the proposal with his chief foe, Commissioner John Wiley Price, who also said timing is suspect.
The two repeatedly interrupted each other during the exchange:
“We’re not trying to suppress passion,” Mayfield said.
“You’re not going to be able to,” Price said.
“What we do want to control is out-of-control behavior,” Mayfield said.
“Well, that would apply to you,” Price said.
The rules would also give the county judge or a majority of other members the power to remove an unruly member from a meeting.
Commissioners added a provision allowing that member to return and conduct business if he or she agrees to behave to the satisfaction of the others.
A final vote on the rules was delayed until next week to give lawyers time to make those changes.