A Paradox - Defending Freedom And Stifling Dissent
On a humid, overcast morning fewer than 100 residents and city staffers met on the City Hall lawn this morning for a brief remembrance of the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.
SHORT AND SWEET
Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce coordinated this remembrance, which included a brief speech by him, recognition of a flag that had flown at the World Trade Center site and a moment of silence.
A fire truck and crew were on-hand, as was Deputy Fire Chief Fred Seguin, to help with this remembrance.
Police Chief Tom Gazsi and members of his command staff were also in attendance.
City Council candidates Harold Weitzberg and John Stephens attended and signed the banner that will be shipped to New York City. The only current elected official I saw at the event was Jim Righeimer.
STAFF AND COMMUNITY TOGETHER
The members of the city staff and from the community paid their respects.
It was a great irony that, as this group gathered to recognize the threat to our freedoms that occurred eleven years ago, some city employees are having some of their freedoms abridged.
In a two-page memo to employees, City CEO Tom Hatch, shown here contemplating the 91101 event, provided them with "Guidelines for City Employee Involvement in Political Campaigns", a list of five things employees may do and eleven things they should not do regarding political activities.
Among the things that are prohibited is this statement, "Don't make public statements or press appearances in favor of or against a candidate or ballot measure during normal work hours, during official city meetings or break times." That emphasis is mine. The way I interpret this prohibition, City employees will be forbidden to speak out at City Council meetings on, for example, Jim Righeimer's Charter. I suspect this is a violation of their protections under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
I also wonder what the penalties are for NOT signing the forms and for violation of the "guidelines"? Nothing in the memo indicates the penalty for transgression.
WHAT ABOUT THE CITY COUNCIL?
I also wonder how this applies to City Council members who are, after all, employees of the city, receiving a salary and benefits for the performance of their jobs? Who will enforce these "guidelines" with members of the City Council?
In my opinion, this is just one more example of the current government of this city attempting to stifle dissent. The City Council majority does it on a regular basis by chiding speakers before them and disparaging their views. Now they are trying to silence opposing views from within the city operations, too. This is just one more example of why Jim Righeimer's Charter is a terrible idea. It will provide the structure for the installation of a dictatorship - the signs are clear as crystal.