No freedom of speech

The Lisbon Council meeting of July 5 was the first held under the new meeting rules, which I see as a gag order, issued at last month's council meeting

It was my feeling that a heavy cloud of control hung over the room as a uniformed, armed police officer, positioned not 6 feet from the podium, gazed intimidatingly around the room, almost daring anyone to take the floor.

As I sat there, stunned by the Third World atmosphere in the room, I had an epiphany. For the first time in my life I truly understood why our forefathers felt so strongly about freedom of speech. It is the right that supports the rest of the rights.

The law of this land allows hate-mongering radicals to protest at the funerals of its fallen war heroes, but the Lisbon Council feels it's necessary to silence the town's taxpayers.

If there was ever a question about how Lisbon's councilors view "freedom of speech," it was answered that night. The entire public participation section of the meeting lasted about 90 seconds.

While the council may have been following the letter of the law, they were not following the spirit of the law.

I offer councilors congratulations on their victory. They won't have anyone looking over their shoulders questioning their judgment. They won't have anyone at their meetings.

Shame on the members of the Lisbon Council for silencing the public, and shame on the public for letting them do it.

Fred Stacey, Lisbon Falls

Editor's note: According to Town Manager Steve Eldridge, the City Council reworked its meeting rules to confine audience participation to the start of the meeting in an attempt to streamline business meetings. According to the Maine Municipal Association, there is no provision in state law that guarantees public participation in municipal business meetings, but participation can be extended as a courtesy if the municipality wishes.

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Comments

 's picture

A recent attempt to speak to

A recent attempt to speak to the MMA as a private citizen elicited the response that the MMA doesn't speak to private citizens, only to town government officials. Two new selectboard members were granted to be " Esteemed " by the MMA upon attending a session with them. There appears to be a good working relationship throughout all of extended government and the idea is to keep the people from speaking.

 's picture

When did MMA become a state department?

MMA is not a state department. It is only a trade organization, and a self serving one at that. Mostly they lobby in the legislature against the people. They are looking out for towns and cities and not for you the taxpayer. They spend inordinate amounts to influence votes such as their opposition of TABOR 1 and TABOR 2. Bangor has recently dropped their membership as being too costly for what they get back. Too bad the rest of Maine cities and towns wouldn't wake up as well!

RONALD RIML's picture

MMA also runs numerous 'Insurance" Services

which no doubt also cement their bottom line......

http://www.memun.org/public/MMA/svc/insurance.htm

RONALD RIML's picture

Stand up and ask to be recognized to speak.

If you are prevented from doing so at a public governmental meeting, get the name of the person who prevented you from speaking, and document the particulars of the incident: date, time, place, and circumstances.

Then contact the Maine Civil Liberties Union; they may be contacted at 207-774-5444.

They will 'educate' these boards on their constitutional responsibilities towards citizens - taking them to court if necessary to protect your right.

 's picture

A lot of business that takes

A lot of business that takes place within the Dixfield selectboard meetings , seems to me, to be contrary to the people's expectations as was mandated during Town Meeting. Is the Maine Civil Liberties Union really a stand organization for the people ?

RONALD RIML's picture

"Civil Liberties" - not 'Expectations"

Dan;

We as citizens have a right to free speech, and a right to address our Government - this is found in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, and is one of our 'Civil Rights'

This does not mean that government's business can't be contrary to the peoples' expectations, but government must give the people the opportunity to be heard. That's why at all public meetings I've ever been to, time is set aside for 'Public Input"

Call the number I posted, and discuss the situation with them if you were forbidden from speaking. They're the experts on this.

 's picture

The same meeting rules were

The same meeting rules were implemented by the selectboard in Dixfield a couple weeks ago, with armed police officer. Our Dixfield town officials will run around all over the state to attend extended government events, but won't make any effort to visit their tax paying residents.

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