When Professionalism Goes Out the Window - Carlos Gamino WisconsinBy Carlos Gamino

It’s not very often that we hear about a fight between a mayor and a councilmember, but that’s exactly what happened in Birmingham, Alabama on December 15.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell and Councilman Marcus Lundy both ended up in the hospital after a physical fight in the council chambers. While both were released – Bell with a sprained knee and a crushed vocal cord, and Lundy with injuries to his thigh and leg – a local judge issued a warrant for Lundy’s arrest shortly after the altercation.

So what happened?

Apparently Bell wanted to talk to Lundy and things just got out of hand, according to news source WTVM. One thing that may have factored into the altercation is the fact that Lundy recently had to turn in a city car he’d been driving because the law prohibits council members from using municipal vehicles, according to April Odom, Bell’s spokesperson.

After Bell tried to leave the room, Lundy allegedly put the mayor in a chokehold to prevent his exit.

This isn’t the first time that public officials have thrown professionalism out the window. In June, a brawl between a public defender and a judge (caught on video, no less) erupted just outside a courtroom, and there have been several others over the past year.

Not all altercations are physical, though many of them are. In Carpentersville, Illinois, one political officer had a meltdown in which he accused one board member of being a “convict,” another one of being the father of an adulterer, and issuing what some board members considered a death threat.

For the most part, verbal altercations aren’t punishable by law (unless, of course, they include death threats or credible threats of violence). However, they can do irreparable damage to a person’s reputation.

What Do You Think?

Have you heard about any wild altercations involving public officials, and what’s your opinion of people who have been elected who behave like this?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino