Trust me, anytime I hear the name Shawn Tornow I usually want to crawl up in a corner and suck my thumb, but he might actually be onto something here;
Lincoln County’s public comment policy doesn’t just apply to specific issues that are discussed in executive session, but broad topics covered by executive session.
Tornow says that regular citizens wouldn’t even know they are running afoul of Lincoln County’s policy.
For example, members of the public might not know about anticipated litigation. They wouldn’t know about topics that were discussed in executive session, because they don’t have access to those meetings. Nor would they know about any other matters that are confidential by law.
In his 3-21 notice, Tornow says the policy is a violation of the First Amendment.
The 3-21 notice alleges that Commission Chairwoman Tiffani Landeen unlawfully cut off Montgomery during a commission meeting on Dec. 6.
“Your actions in this regard were unreasonable, unnecessary and, as my client firmly believes, actionable since her right to free speech and free expression at such a public meeting was unlawfully squelched,” the 3-21 notice says. “Consequently, this correspondence and resulting action became necessary in order to take action to right the wrong.”
I have been warning the city council that cutting off individuals because you are unhappy with the content of their presentation is a 1st Amendment violation. As Tornow points out above the public isn’t aware what the elected officials know due to the privacy of an executive session and elected officials don’t know what private citizens know or what they will say in public. I get it, decorum and threats of violence are serious things and should be handled (even though last night at the city council meeting a public commenter said SH!T three times during his input without being interrupted by the chair. Maybe since he was talking about it running downhill it was pertinent to the input about sewers? I chalk it up to no one actually listening to the gentleman).
At least Tornow and his client are affording the LCC the opportunity to remedy the situation without it going to court.
This is NOT rocket science folks. Instead of focusing on what people CANNOT say during public comment periods and making up rules as they go along, maybe we should focus on what they can say which is just about anything they want to, including feces running down hill.
The SCOTUS ruled on this in 2018 and several times before that. The ruling stands until it is challenged and overturned.