The North Mankato City Council is wrong.
On July 24 they passed a policy that severely limits the ability of our citizens to publicly contribute and redress grievances. The city administrator said: "There's no freedom of speech right to a city council public business meeting."
Given the trend of government at all levels to consolidate power that is likely true. But, having the power to do something does not make the doing right.
The right of the people to seek redress of grievances can be traced back to the Magna Carta and has been carried through to the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights. It is a natural desire of those in power to want to repress that, as it is uncomfortable and challenges one's thinking. But, if we wish to continue this experiment we call the United States we must not allow encroachment of this fundamental right.
Justification for these policies was given, but I don’t believe that those that give them believe what they are saying.
Mayor Dehen said: “We’re trying to make sure that everybody can comment.” Well, that is obviously not everybody. Most people I talk with say they would find it almost impossibly difficult to get up and speak before a body like the council without any restrictions or rules around it. The policies proposed only make it more unlikely someone would get up to speak.
At times it is necessary to repeat a plea. Yet, the council doesn’t want to hear it. The council should mind the words of Bill Clinton regarding the last election: "We thought we had changed their minds, but we'd just silenced their voices.”