Sad Day

It's a pretty sad day for open government in this town. A local woman was physically removed from a City Commission meeting last night for talking after "her comment time was up."

I don't fault the police officers who were doing their jobs. I do fault the woman for escalating the situation to the point where she converted her constitutional rights to criminal behavior.

But my god, people. We have a citizen with a complaint about government. We're going to start physically removing people from government meetings because their comments exceed 3 minutes?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Sound familiar?

The "3 minute rule" should be repealed. Post haste.


GFgirl said...

I agree with the right to express one’s opinion at public meetings; however, at what point do we draw the line? Some people can get on their soap box and talk for minutes on end and loose everybody and negate their issue in the process. I occasionally attend city commission meetings (and did attend last night) and can tell you that there are those who would like nothing more than to talk without limit. What does that accomplish?

Anonymous said...

I think your post was way too long.You are writing without limit.
You've lost me. There oughta be a law.

Anonymous said...

Masked&Anonymous sez...What! Go back to these idiots raving and filibustering adnauseam.Most of these fool don't deserve 1 minute.If you can't make a point in three minutes ,you don't have a point! Quit wasting my time and tax money! As for dingleberry dog trainer from Ulm- "Susan....Sit!....Stay!...Good Girl"

GeeGuy said...

Let's not build up straw men here, GFGirl. I never advocated speech "without limit." In fact, I recognize and appreciate Commissioners' efforts to keep comments pertinent and on track.

I do, however, disagree with a three minute time limit. I have, for example, seen Brett Doney of the GFDA ask for and receive additional time on numerous occasions. He has never been physically removed for talking past the buzzer. Of course, he is typically praising the Commission. Coincidence? Maybe.

I only know what I read in the paper. But even so, there is something unseemly about physically removing a critic from a public gathering of government. Three minutes is arbitrary and too short.

They should repeal it.

We went what, a hundred and some years without a three minute time limit? Have you seen some significant improvement in the efficiency or efficacy of city government since the time limit came along? I haven't.

GeeGuy said...

Oh, and by the way, first Anonymous?

Great post!

Anonymous said...

The sun shines and rain & hail falls upon on us all and what does that accomplish?

That's life. Deal with it.

Free & unlimited speech, even endless rhetoric, does tie up the process of moving forward on good government policy. But the best news is it does the same thing to stupid government decisions.

That's representative democracy. Deal with it! Or deal with tyrants who revoke your right to vote and ignore the law.

Yapping incessantly is easier to clean up than the torrential rain of arrogant governmental decisions made without the voice of the people.

Limiting citizens right to speak for merely 3 minutes is bad policy, very bad policy.

Treasure State Jew said...

I blogged about the issue that the woman brought up yesterday. Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.

I hate to say it, but there almost seems to be an epidemic going around in this town of trying to shut up citizens speaking against the pet projects of their betters. This does not democracy make.

However, a fair and equitable application of the 3 minute rule would not be out of bounds, provided that everyone had to live under the same rules.

Anonymous said...

Now I have discovered Electric City Weblog.

WolfPack said...

From the article in the trib it sounded like this lady was a nut job. Can anyone who was there confirm this? This incident may be more than just a routine enforcement of the 3 minute rule. Hard to believe that she was completely rational up until the point she hit the cop. Straw men are sitting on both sides of this post.

Anonymous said...

Ask Mary Jolley - evidently she was there according to the reporter:

"She's the first victim of the city's three-minute rule," quipped Mary Jolley, an audience member at the commission meeting.

big sky husker said...

Watched the 10:00 news tonight (KRTV)... and this story rated a two minute soundbite. KRTV didn't even say what the gal was complaining about when she hit the 3 minute hook. I wonder if the local news outlets (at least KRTV) are ever going to actually do their jobs, versus being an echo chamber. The good news... the bridge to nowhere is going to get blue lights to highlight how much money is being wasted on this fiasco.

The 3 minute time limit needs to go. Sounded like a good idea at the time... but it ain't.

Anonymous said...

Makes me wonder, do fortune 500 CEO's use the same 3 minute rule as a good business practice?

Anonymous said...

Dona wont make it past the primary.

Anonymous said...

Couple'a points if I may. First, I know Susan, the lady arrested. She is not a regular at city commission meetings. Hence, she was unfamiliar with the arbitrary three minute rule. Also, she was there to speak about something that is of great concern to the animal welfare folks in our town. And that is the proposal to take the operation of the city animal shelter away from the Humane Society, and place it under the control of the police department. The animal people, for numerous and legimate reasons, feel that this is a bad idea. Couple this with the fact that the annual budget for operation of the shelter will then climb astromonically from the current 100,000 per year, to 500,000 per year. And then throw in the fact that all this seems to be an incestous, under-the-table, insider job between the city and the PD. THAT is what Susan wanted to speak to the council about. (in THREE minutes? Yeah right!) She sees possible collusion, corruption, and wrond doing on the part of the city mothers. (I refuse to call them fathers, cause these mothers are MOTHERS!) Anyway, Susan had prepared her case with the thoroughness of any good lawyer. She's a sharp gal and knows her stuff. So, immediately during here presentation, the city mothers were on the defensive. Course, from what I've seen of them, they're NEVER really in the mood for either criticism for tough questions. So, let's face it. Even before Susan violated the three minute rule, she had crossed the line so to speak. The mayor would have no more of what Susan had to say. With a nod of her head, Great Falls's finest (finest thugs), in plain clothes, and NOT identifying themselves at all, approached Susan and grabbed her. She had NO idea who these people were who were accosting her. She kept repeating politely, "Please let me go. Please let me go." And guess what. IT'S ALL ON TAPE! Well, they didn't. Susan's boyfriend, Ric Valois, who also had no idea who these guys were, pulled them off Susan, and then the turned on Ric. But Ric, being an ex-Army Ranger in Laos, easily dislodged their pressure holds, and accidentally knocking the chief of police on his ass. (he found out later who that little baldheaded fella was) Anyway, Susan was grabbed again, and THAT'S when she grabbed her assailant by the balls and yanked! For you see, she STILL figured that she was being assualted. No policeman had identified themselves, even at that point. IT'S ALL ON TAPE! Det. Shanlin (sp) then grabbed Susan and pulled her violently from the room, while an outraged and astonished crowd looked on. They could not believe what they were seeing. Neither could the news crew that was filming the incident. Susan is frail, in ill healthy, and fifty-one years old. It takes a big man cop to manhandle a helpless woman. Once out the doors, the cop slammed Susan into the wall, and promptly informed her that she was being charged with felony assualt on a police officer. This is the FIRST mention of the word cop. So, there you have it. Was Susan guilty of something? Well, no ID from the cops. No miranda. Excessive force. And on and on and on. The cops were WAY outta control. They were acting as thugs for the mayor. They are there to intimidate witnesses. And as such, we must ask, WHY ARE THEY THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE? They shouldn't be. Hell, it's a city council meeting for cryin' out loud. The citizens of GF need to take back their city government from lawton, stebbins, and their personal thugs, the cops in attendance. This is an intolerable situation. lawton screwed up by getting the city involved in the boondoggle coal plant. And now, he's implemented thuggery to silence dissent and any opposition. I've been to public meetings where miners, loggers, and enviros were nearly at each others throats. But we needed NO thuggish cops to conduct a public hearing. It's wrong that a mayor as incompetent as donna stebbins needs thugs with badges to get her way. Time to send this group of city mothers packing! For this incident sends a sinister message to us all. And that is, if you want to speak to the council about something they don't want to hear, you're screwed! I personally don't think that this is what democracy's all about. If mayor bozo is REALLY concerned about giving everyone equal time, well then, HOW BOUT TEN MINUTES, DONNA?

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!

Anonymous said...

Did the city really hand the Human Society bid to the Police Dept for review? If so and these were sealed bids this in itself should spoil the bid process and disqualify the PD from bidding on this again. Somebody needs to be fired for disclosure. Ditto the cop that abused the women.