I thought last week’s Idyllwild Fire Protection District candidate forum went well.

I thought the moderator explained the process well, the audience behaved itself and the candidates were articulate.

Surprise! The following day I learned that the moderator threw softball questions at the candidates rather than reading the tough questions actually written down. (Some of those questions not asked appear here.)

So next time we host this event a few changes will occur, including better screening of the moderator.

We also will supply a PA system allowing everyone to hear the candidates’ voices. The forum took place at Town Hall on a hot summer night so early on, we turned off the fans and opened the doors to allow answers to be heard.

And so, when about a third of the way into the forum a loud engine came roaring past Town Hall, parking outside, the fire engine’s noisy intrusion seemed possibly planned to disrupt a newspaper-sponsored event.

And then, through the front doors came the chief and a contingency of uniformed firefighters who took up patrol standing in the back.

A common sight, actually, at the back of every IFPD commission meeting I’ve ever attended.

I have yet to see that occur at any other public board meeting in Idyllwild or Pine Cove.

Never have I seen Cal Fire employees line up in the back of a County Service Area 38 meeting either.

Sure, the public has a right to attend meetings but is it necessary to stand in back like that?

Considering the contentiousness that exists at times between rank and file and the commission, appearances are everything.

Just as certain actions of the board over the years imply possible Brown Act violations, the bully patrol involving any IFPD meeting smells of intimidation.

Either sit down or leave the room.