I’m disappointed that the mayor’s refusal to allow a citizen the floor at the Jan. 22 assembly meeting has generated debate about citizen’s First Amendment Right to free speech (Mike Denker, letter of 2/1).
The assembly meetings are business meetings. They are not forums for citizens to bring forward their personal issues with individual assembly members. A business meeting is not King Solomon’s Court.
At a previous assembly meeting, that same citizen made a public accusation that a member had acted improperly. The correct action then would have been to direct the citizen to speak privately to the mayor or the accused to settle the issue. That didn’t happen. On Jan. 22 he came forward to speak publicly on the topic again.
I believe Mayor Morphet was correct to tell the silenced citizen that they had the right to address their grievance with the manager or the mayor; the airwaves of KHNS, the pages of this newspaper or social media are forums wherein a citizen’s right to free speech is protected. A mayor’s function is to direct process and decorum at assembly meetings. Not everything goes there.
I appreciate citizens’ concerns about how the government functions (or not). It is imperative that the government know what citizens think. But it is also important for citizens to appreciate that the podium at the Haines Assembly chambers serves citizens who address the assembly on matters germane to the business at hand or the functioning of the borough.
Debra Schnabel – Assemblymember