“I remember the advice: ‘Don’t forget. The (City) Council can do anything … even if it is illegal,’ ”
- Council member Ron Christianson at the May 27 Labor Committee meeting.
Some Willmar City Council members believe they need to further limit the public’s right to speak at council and committee meetings.
We say ‘no’ to more city censorship.
Some public forum limits discussed at a May 27 city meeting were: limiting individual residents’ comments to only two times a year, restricting comment topics, not allowing nonresidents to speak, not allowing residents who are candidates to speak, limiting comments only to agenda items and not broadcasting public comments via public access television or audio.
Council member Ron Christianson said that the public forum is only for residents to bring up city issues. He wants to see more limits. Apparently he is not liking what he’s been hearing lately.
The Willmar City Council has had an “open forum” policy for 15 years, which limits comments to three minutes and prohibits some discussion topics. However, this policy was rarely enforced during former Mayor Frank Yanish’s administration and neither council member Steve Ahmann nor Christianson ever raised concerns during that time. Fortunately, Mayor Marv Calvin is now enforcing the current policy
To further restrict the public’s right to speak is uncalled for and will only further isolate city residents, especially as many already feel that council members are not listening. Such efforts infringe upon First Amendment rights and are, frankly, un-American.
The real question is what are the council members afraid of when Willmar residents speak on their concerns?