D.C. Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), after exchanging angry words with colleague John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) this week during a legislative session, has asked the council chairman to tighten the rules governing conduct in meetings.
"Some council members are constantly plagued with what I determine to be rude and discourteous expressions from another council member," Winter wrote in a memorandum to Chairman David A. Clarke.
Without naming Wilson, Winter also noted earlier occasions when "the council member" insulted one colleague and approached another "using gestures of inciting an altercation."
Wilson, characterizing the memorandum as "the most petty piece of garbage," said yesterday he had not been rude.
"I don't know how people define rude," he said. "The question is whether or not I tell the truth or whether I'm rude. The truth might be rude to some people."
Clarke said yesterday that he would meet with Winter to discuss parliamentary procedures, but said he was limited in his authority under council rules.
He said council rules allow him to "gavel" council members when they are out of order and to use a recess to bring matters under control, which is what he did when tempers flared Tuesday between Winter and Wilson.
The two had been debating a plan to create city-owned parking lots when, according to Winter, Wilson personally offended her.
In her memorandum, Winter wrote, "It is regrettable that we have had to endure such outbursts routinely and be placed in the precarious position of swallowing such rudeness and obscenity and reacting in a manner to try and quell a disturbance."
Under council rules, members are to confine their remarks to the matters under discussion or debate, "avoiding negative personal comments."
Clarke said he uses his gavel to get the attention of members who may stray from the discussion or who are out of order.
He said many of his colleagues complain that he gavels them regularly. He said he tries to adhere to the rules "firmly and fairly."
However, some council members said yesterday that they are concerned that the sessions have become increasingly disorderly.
Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) said some of his supporters have asked him about the council's "demeanor, order and dialogue" after watching council sessions on local cable television.
"I think that decorum on that dais has to be one of respect," Winter said yesterday.
But, Wilson said, "It makes no difference what people say about me . . . . What is important to me is that I represent my constituents."