Local Governments across the nation are limiting public input due to MAGgots

This story in WaPo addresses something I have been seeing across the nation;

Across a polarized nation, governing bodies are restricting — and sometimes even halting — public comment to counter what elected officials describe as an unprecedented level of invective, misinformation and disorderfrom citizens when theystep to the microphone. As contentious social issues roil once-sleepy town council and school board gatherings, some officials say allowing people to have their say is poisoning meetings and thwarting the ability to get business done.

This tired old excuse comes up all the time especially at our local board meetings. I have told commenters as along as you are addressing the body as a whole and are NOT threatening physical harm, you can speak about whatever you want to;

In Rochester, City Council President Brooke Carlson said one of her primary concerns is making sure meetings remain welcoming to people of all viewpoints and identities. The council’s once-monthly limit on commenting has helped, she said, though it did not please regular speakers.

“You are supposed to be servants of the people,” one, Othelmo da Silva, told the board, according to a video of the meeting. “You should be here to listen to us for as long as you need to, because we are technically your bosses.”

That is a view shared by Barry Sanders, a city council member in Taunton, Mass. Last fall, the council briefly suspended public input after a speaker chastised a council member by name over a dispute that began on social media, violating a requirement that comments be “respectful, courteous and not personal in nature.” Sanders opposed the suspension.

“That’s what the First Amendment speaks to: the right of the public to have their grievances heard. Not the right of the public to say nice things about their elected officials,” Sanders said.

I am not opposed to complementing elected officials but the public comment portion of the meeting should be for bringing up concerns in our community. If you want to say something nice send them an email, text or card (you know that thing you used to put in an envelope with a stamp).

There are people in this community and those who sit on the dais that believe our community is so well run and safe they are surprised that someone would dare to show up to the meetings and question what they are doing. Just off the top of my head I can give you several issues these bodies need to tackle, including homelessness, affordable housing, wages, violent crime, public transit, food deserts, and the utter lack of open and transparent government.

There seems to be a fear if the public knows to much, they are dangerous, and now they are treating the City Council the same way by only giving them a few days to approve a 100% cost overrun. There is a reason governments ramrod projects and it isn’t because they are champions of transparent government, they are likely hiding the devil in the details.

If you truly want people to stop coming to public input, instead of banning it, make our city, county and school governments more transparent. It’s hard to bitch about something that is right in front of your face.



8 comments ↓

#1 Very Stable Genius on 01.19.23 at 4:28 pm

Yep, once again Trump has fxxked everything up. Or, is that merely cover for those who wish to control in an age of the haves and have nots with the middle class disappearing at a faster rate than the Amazon, which then makes it harder for a normalcy to prevail which could find a hopeful and continual balance between advocacy and inquiry?

There’s a reason why some of our high schools are all white. Why the bike trail doesn’t go into Taupeville. Why buses don’t go to Taupeville, and why executive homes are built while building middle class and working class homes is apparently some kind of struggle.

We have all had many discussions on this blog about this reality, this struggle, this division, but don’t blame it all on Trump. He’s merely the wall that hides the real intent or angle of those in power who wish to stay in power and build their moat of governance and existence with the help of a scapegoat and some spin.

#2 D@ily Spin on 01.19.23 at 7:05 pm

The media was the public voice. Newspapers failed. Local TV became cable and national corporations. It’s easy for autocracy to replace democracy. Politicians became powerful and dangerous. A few wealthy buy them. There’s no limit on contributions. Budget gets spent on sports centers the middle class can’t afford.

It’s sad but the only way to police government is a few minutes of public comment. Individual citizens are not focused and do not present themselves well. It takes majority organization in the form or demonstration. Democracy is broke.

A majority of Russians fight for democracy while we take it for granted. Perhaps they deserve freedom and we don’t.

#3 rufusx on 01.20.23 at 9:06 am

It is a misapplication of the terms of the 1st amendment to restrict it to ANY specific purpose, such as “for bringing up concerns”. Though that may be included in the right, it is no more restricted to that as to any other topic.

#4 rufusx on 01.20.23 at 9:09 am

VSG – and that continual struggle by those in power to stay in power is not a feature restricted by race, ethniciyty, re;ligion, political perspective, nationality, or to occurring on any continent or in any nation or state on Earth. There are somewhat unique features and affeceted populations in different locations, but the process and goals are the same.

#5 timothy sorenson on 01.20.23 at 10:27 am

I look up 3 cases all were democrats, using Google search .so you should take a look your self.

#6 Mike Lee Zitterich on 01.21.23 at 10:28 am

Lets remember, in 2024, the Residents of Sioux Falls will be placing “new” people in charge of the N.W District, N.E District, S.E District, let alone the At-Large Chair “A”.

In 2022 – we put 3 new members on the City Council. Sarah Cole, Richard Merkouris, David Barranco, while Curt Soehl maintained his hold on the Central District.

Knowing that 3 ‘seats’ are to be replaced in 2024, this period in time, is leading to a complete “NEW” Council for the 2024-2026 Session.

Landowners, Property Holders, Businesses will lead the charge to maintain their power hold on the At-Large Chairs; while the PEOPLE within the NW, NE, and SW Districts will attempt to maintain a stronghold on those smaller, but more ‘people friendly chairs for the future.

Our 5 Districts are broken down into “PRECINCTS” – you realize, that each Precinct has a Precinct Committeeman or Woman – ‘we’ should be organizing the Precincts by holding Precinct Committee Meetings inside the City, in order to discuss the following:

1) Drafting, Proposing, and Placing a Resolution on a Public Ballot of a Special Election to discuss any such public matter of which the Residents deem important;

2) Drafting, Proposing, and Placing a Citywide Initiative on a public ballot of a special election adopting any such Ordinance of which the People so wish for, desire to govern the city departments in such manner;

3) Drafting, Proposing, and Placing on a Future Public Ballot a Charter Amendment to change the means of how your City Government operates, or to make minor changes to the governing process as such;

4) Meeting to discuss Potential Candidates to place on the ballots for Representatives for NW, NE, SW Districts;

The PEOPLE can at anytime propose and adopt a Resolution to INSTRUCT the City Council to hold a Public Investigation as per Section 2.09 to Audit, Review, and Discuss the Bid Process, the Public Parking Enterprise, let alone the 2013 Shape Place Planning and Zoning Ordinance.

Until now, the People have been passive, not taking back their rightful power, let alone, they do NOT organize themselves enough to ‘refer’ recently adopted ordinances or resolutions by placing them on Public Ballots to be oer turned by the people…

IF you do not like the Council votes, or does things, As per the Home Rule Charter, YOU have the right to organize the PRECINCTS within the 5 Districts to hold Public Conventions, Commissions, or Committees to do such things that you feel needs to be done, in order to enforce the Right of the People to “Self Govern” themselves.

The People have forgot, they have the “True Power”.

Each of the Five Districts are Broken down into at least 25 Precincts each – Each Precinct has a “Precinct Committeeman or Woman” as Duly Elected by Yourself.

Contact them, Your Committeeman and Woman – hold Town Hall Forums, Committee Meetings, let alone organize them all into “One Convention” to address a public concern(s).

As per Charter Section 6.03 – The powers of initiative and referendum are hereby reserved to the electors of the city. The provisionsvof the election law of the State of South Dakota, as they currently exist or may hereafter be amended or superseded, shall govern the exercise of the powers of initiative and referendum under this charter.”

IF, ‘we’ have 150 Precincts in our “CITY”, and incorporated Political Sub-Division, then ‘we’ shall hold a Convention of where those 150 “Precinct Committee Members” may meet in one place to hold a Public Forum.

These “Conventions” shall be called so long as a majority of the members are present, let alone the meeting is Published, and Recorded in the County, let alone, where the People have the Right to Assemble under the Constitution.

In a true “Republic” the People are above their Government, and can rule over that government as a Free Sovereign Group of People.

Through these Conventions, Commissions, Meetings, We can organize ourselves to place things on a ballot, let alone, ‘appoint’ a panel, or 1 person to represent all of us before the City Council to enforce, and force the council to do waht we want them to do.

IF the council still fails the people, well, then the the council then knows that the people are “Well Organized”.

#7 Erica on 01.25.23 at 9:33 pm

VSG, which high exactly is ALL white? “There’s a reason why some of our high schools are all white.”

Have you been to high schools lately? You must be blind as a bat.

And why are you so obsessed with skin color anyway?

#8 Erica on 01.25.23 at 9:39 pm

Also, VSG, are you claiming that there are no people of color living in “tauperville” (Since you ALWAYS bring up that term in almost EVERY post, you obviously are pretty jealous of the people who live in that area for some reason. You also have a very unrealistic idea of the type of area and the people who make it up as well. There are many diverse people living in the “tauperville” community that you are so jaded over.

Many people of different races, religions, incomes, nationalities, genders, and even sexualities live in ALL areas of Sioux Falls, to include tAuPeRvIlLe. You really need to remove the wool from your eyes and get that chip off your shoulder already.

Its pretty racist and bigoted of you to assume that people of color only live in the lower income areas of town