1984 Berlin Boyd was nowhere to be found....At today's meetings Berlin had this to say, "No one is saying anything right now about ending public comment. Everyone just wants to take the personal attacks out of it." Oh, how soon we forget Herr Boyd. Was Local Memphis lying when they quoted this from you ? "There is no constitutional right to speak on the council floor, but that does not mean people will be happy to lose the opportunity."
Here's what Berlin Boyd said:
"It's a change and I think people will get adjusted to it and people will realize, hey this is a new change that the council has implemented. And I think as time goes on they will accept it and say, hey this is how it goes."
Note to Boyd: people don't get used to it when their freedoms are threatened. That's why the public got engaged, took to Facebook, organized a demonstration, and showed up at yesterday's meeting.
The prevailing feeling of the rest of the council was that the public should be continued to allowed to speak. Councilwoman Janis Fullilove was particularly forceful in reinforcing the value of public comment and reminding the other councilmembers that they're there to serve the public, not the other way around.
This is what happens when the public engages with their government and holds them accountable...
Anyways...my take on the rest of the meeting goes on..
Chairman Ford bullies a policeman's wife by calling her out by name and throws out what some would interpret as a threat to her and a couple of others at a previous council meeting but reacts at the last meeting as if SHE was the one that had threatened someone. He claims sometimes the public speakers can be downright harassing only he picked the wrong target to lay that blame on.
Fran Triplett has been awarded honorary council member and the award has been signed by almost everyone on the council, except of course Edmund Ford. Fran may have some dissenting words for the council but she has never bullied or harassed anyone and if citizens are bullying anyone while speaking during a meeting then apparently the chairman doesn't know how to conduct a meeting.
The Chairman can interrupt and stop someone from speaking by simply turning the microphone off. If citizens are bullying and harassing council members during their 2 minutes, and the chairman doesn't have the managerial skills to control the meeting...perhaps he shouldn't be a chairman.
And perhaps the council should not arbitrarily decide to ruin the right to speak and air grievances due to the unruly conduct of a few.
Now, having said that, today's rules committee meeting was interesting. Remember the cocky and arrogant attitude of Mr. Ford when at the last meeting he stated this "come to District 6 and exercise their 1st amendments rights but remember when you do MY PEOPLE will reciprocate"??? Well, that personality was a little bit subdued...not completely but certainly not as cocky. Mr. Ford must know that the idea of doing away with the public speaking on anything they want at the heel of the meeting is not really what America is known for...
Rip Van Winkle (Alan Wade) spoke 1st on the subject and it seemed to me he was encouraging the council to do away with the public comments at the heel of the meeting and if they did it would be totally legal and on the up and up while legitimizing this idea by letting people know that Nashville only lets people speak on the issues on the agenda.
Fran Triplett posted this on Facebook and I think it's very relevant...It amazes me that Attorney Allen Wade states that Nashville does not allow citizens to speak....well he left off the other major 9 cities that do allow citizens to speak Chattanogga, Knoxville, Charlotte, Little Rock, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Birmingham, New Orleans...
Wake up everyone I think it is a conflict of interest for Attorney Allen Wade to lead and try and convince the council members to stop citizens from speaking by giving a one sided story! Oh Fran...you are such a bully for lobbying to dissent against the council. Dissent will not be tolerated...that is of course unless the public starts paying attention and the pr starts looking bad for us...then we will flip flop so as to save face...
This whole rules change idea came about because Mr. Ford became irate at the last meeting because some citizens didn't take kindly to what they rightly interpreted as a threat by him towards them at a meeting in December. Who are you going to believe ...me or your lying eyes...here is Mike Williams (President of the Police Union) take on it
As a sidenote: Council woman Janis Fullilove noted that in prior meetings she had been called drunken no good dirty rotten... I can't remember the exact wording that Janis says was directed towards her but you get the picture. I do know from watching these meetings and attending when I can that this has happened and the Chairman who could have put a stop to this did not. I don't care what you think of Janis Fullilove but she deserves respect the same as any citizen. Did she whine and complain and try to change the rules so the public would be silenced. No. She did not. And if you watch the videos below you will see her talking about this part of the meeting which she enjoys and thinks the negative feedback just comes with the job. Also listen to Jamita Swearengen speak on this it was worth more than anything Rip Van Winkle( Alan Wade) or Mr. Ford said.
Frank Colvett and Worth Morgan also spoke in favor of not doing away with these public comments at the heel of the meeting.
P.S. Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert, Jamita Swearengen can handle public dissent without crying to the city's attorney to take away the public's right to speak. Maybe Mr. Ford should just man up. You too, Mr. Boyd.
I'm not one to be part of the whole girl power thing but...kudos ladies...you were the light that shined in the council darkness.
Go to around 7 mins to see Mr. Ford trying to justify why he wanted to have this rules change by stating that 55 people at one meeting 30 people at another meeting in his district all agreed with him so because 80 people agreed with your one-sided story then he's justified right? So make no mistake about this...he's not avidly trying to do away with this rules change anymore because he knows it looks bad...PR wise. If there was not push back....he would change it in a heartbeat. The end.
The council meeting is today. If I have the heart to stomach more government overreach I will write a recap. Perhaps I will just cover the rally for free speech. This is what its' come to Memphis...rallies by the public trying to keep you from squelching public comments at council meetings.