Frilling bluster degrades proceeding


Herpetologists know them as Chlamydosaurus Kingii. Everybody else just calls them frilled lizards. The frilled lizard is an Australian reptile that spends most of its life in trees. Larger adults can grow as long as three feet. They tend to be omnivorous — as they are opportunistic feeders, but seldom do they eat anything that puts up much of a fight.

The frilled lizard gets its name from the large fold of skin around its head and neck. When the lizard feels threatened, it puffs up the big flap of skin like a sideways umbrella and makes a pronounced hissing sound. This behavior is often accompanied by standing on its hind legs, and leaping at or charging any would-be predator. If this bluffing and bluster doesn’t work, the lizard usually runs up the nearest tree.

All of this is quite a show. Fortunately (or perhaps more correctly — unfortunately), we in Pine Bluff don’t have to go to Australia to see such a sight. We don’t even have to go to the Little Rock Zoo. All we have to do is attend a Pine Bluff City Council meeting.

Last Friday’s special city council meeting provides a case in point. As was reported by The Commercial, Alderman Glen Brown appeared to take great offense when an audience member (who represented himself as part of the news media) positioned himself distractingly near the front of the meeting. The individual was asked by Pine Bluff police officer Mike Sweeney to move back. In the ensuing kerfuffle, Sweeney removed the individual from the council chambers.

Brown, whose documented history of “no comment” does not suggest a particular affinity for the press, apparently took this as a grievous insult and chose to accost Sweeney.

According to Sweeny’s incident report, Brown called both him (Sweeney) and Mayor Debe Hollingsworth a racist and said, “you all are what’s wrong with Pine Bluff.”

Brown rebuffed this contention: “That officer is a liar. I never said anything like that.”

These are strong words. They are doubly strong coming from an elected official. They are weighted further by the fact that he appears to have publicly challenged the honesty of a decorated public servant — a hero cop. Such words have consequences.

To say it bluntly, we are tired of Brown’s churlish demeanor. We are tired of his obstructive stance with regard to Hollingsworth. We are tired of his glib indifference to the “homework” required of elected officials.

Over the past three months, Brown has grown increasingly bold in his outbursts and physicality. On more than one occasion he has waved his hands, stood up assertively and otherwise “frilled” in an unbecoming way.

It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t care for Hollingsworth. His approval of her is not a job requirement. His respect for the office (both hers and his), his duty to the people who elected him, and his sworn obligation as a public servant demand he comport himself in a more professional and less reprobate fashion.

To be clear, we’re not suggesting that he sit there and be quiet. Far from it. We are suggesting that he try harder to remember where he is and why he’s there.

That said, Brown was heard to ask on Friday whether the gathering of the mayor and other council members in the council chambers was in fact “a council meeting.” This alone suggests something about the acuity Brown brings to the tasks at hand.

Lastly, it’s not as if this is the first time Brown has found himself in the middle of a needless controversy. Readers will recall last November’s campaign sign-pulling incident that bore no formal charges, but certainly aroused a reasonable suspicion.

In summary, if Brown wants to be Pine Bluff’s most maleficent makebate, that’s fine. There are plenty street corners from which he is free to lambast. As long as he’s drawing one of those fat city council paychecks, there needs to be more “chill” and less “frill.”