'Citizen Cartwheel' draws attention at government meetings

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By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler
By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler
By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler
By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler

PHOENIX -- Diane Barker, a Phoenix senior citizen and former Ohio State University cheerleader, is banned from doing cartwheels at Maricopa Association of Government meetings. For most meeting attendees, this wouldn't be a problem. For Barker, however, it's stifling.

"I just want to let people know that moving is good," Barker said.

For more than a decade, Barker has attended a variety of government meetings, including MAG and Phoenix City Council.

"I believe in first amendment rights," Barker said. "Free speech. And along with that is free expression."

Barker is a believer and advocate for multi-modal transportation - using many alternative methods of transportation, including walking, biking or even cartwheeling.

Now, Barker, a cheerleader in high school and college, is doing her cheer routines for those fuel-friendly means of transportation.

"I love it, she adds a lot of flavor," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. "I really think it's a sign that she loves her city, she loves to be a leader in the city and I think her cartwheels are really a demonstration of the passion she feels."

However, not everyone feels the way Stanton does. MAG said Barker a letter saying she couldn't do cartwheels at their meetings anymore if she wants to continue speaking at them.

"Basically, they said that it was 'unprofessional' and 'disruptive,'" Barker said. "It was way away from anybody else."

Barker said she'll abide by MAG's rules, but that she'll continue her routines at Phoenix city meetings.

"If people really let themselves go and express themselves," Barker said, "maybe we could actually get government to move."