Letter to the editor

Blair King can’t

silence speech

Following the close of the public comment section to the July 26 City Council meeting, city manager Blair King provided his report.

He made the following statement regarding some of the public comment that suggested there might be corruption at City Hall.

“I for one will react very strongly to any implications of corruption of city staff. That is uncalled for. When you call out a city employee by name, you place a city employee at a disadvantage. We don’t want this to be a debating society. This is not the location to call out city employees by names. This is not the location to say, city employees are corrupt. This is not the way it’s done. And Mr. Mayor, I’d like your support in reminding the public that they’re here to speak their truth, but do not imply corruption.”

Mayor Joe Deets, unfortunately, agreed with King.

It is not Constitutionally permitted, or appropriate, for any city official or employee to attempt to chill the public’s right to express its dissent with its government. The public’s right to speak its mind on any matter of municipal concern (not, as stated twice by Mr. King in his complete comment, its “truth,” which term improperly attempts to impose some evidentiary burden on a lay citizen who presently has only a “concern”) is restricted in very few ways, none of which were present during that meeting.

We, as citizens, are allowed to say we think our city’s government is “corrupt,” as that is a legitimate municipal concern, assuming it’s presented within the permitted bounds, without fearing our city manager will “react strongly.” I remain concerned that King’s improvident remarks will potentially dissuade at least some citizens from speaking their minds, lest they be publicly remonstrated for their trouble, effectively chilling those citizens’ right to political free speech.

King’s indignation is ironic, given that it occurred during the same meeting when members of the public reported being denigrated by planning commissioners appointed by the City Council.

Lisa Neal