Another council meeting, another shameful display | IN OUR OPINION

Disgraceful and cowardly.

Those are just two of the words that come to mind following the continued and shameful silencing of Councilman Bob Scales.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Bainbridge Island City Council, Mayor Debbi Lester shut down Scales as he began to speak. This time, it was when the councilman tried to talk about the immediate firing of City Manager Brenda Bauer.

Lester announced that she would limit his speaking time to three minutes, and when he asked for 10 minutes, she said he could speak for five.

Five minutes? Really? On an issue that was not on the agenda, and anticipated by only a chosen few inside city hall?

Scales has been careful to stick to the issues at hand during his speaking time on the dais, and his comments are typically not the off-topic ramblings that would waste the council’s time.

Instead, it seems that some on the council are quick to silence the councilman because they do not agree with the content of his comments, or find themselves unable to articulate a compelling counter-argument or explanation to the points he has raised.

Both are no reasons to stifle debate. Our country is a democracy, built on a founding principle that the public is best served by a vigorous debate that allows all the chance to have their say.

Sometimes elected officials may not like what their opponents have to say, or how long it takes to say it, but they have an obligation to share the dais with opposing and diverse opinions.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Let’s hope Wednesday night’s embarrassing and pitiful spectacle is the last time the public is insulted with such a disrespectful display.


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