WATERLOO — A frequent speaker at Waterloo City Council meetings got hot headed Tuesday when asked to take off his hat.
Mayor Quentin Hart called for a halt to the weekly council meeting just minutes into the opening public comments period after getting into a dispute with Dwayne Eilers, who declined Hart’s repeated requests to remove his cap.
Police Chief Dan Trelka and another officer later emerged from a closed door meeting with Hart to escort Eilers out of the building. But he had already left.
Hart has adopted and enforced a practice requiring those speaking to the council from the podium to remove their headgear for meeting decorum.
Eilers has been attending council meetings almost every week, contending he is being singled out by code enforcement officers because other properties with similar violations were not receiving citations.
Eilers doffed his hat at previous meetings but objected to the rule this week.
“I refuse to remove my hat because I have the right to be my own person, not the person you want me to be,” Eilers said. “You’re stepping on my First Amendment right to speak.”
Hart asked Eilers five times to take off his hat before the meeting was recessed.
“Please remove your hat, Mr. Eilers,” Hart said. “We’re not going to be a spectacle tonight.”
Hart had also cut off Eilers from speaking during the Aug. 27 meeting when Eilers suggested the council fire the city attorney for failure to do his job. He also chastised Eilers for cursing during the previous week’s public comments period.
After the meeting, Hart said code enforcement had issued citations to the properties Eilers had pointed out as having violations a week earlier.