Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Sala to try to shred First Amendment Rights and limit Public Comment

As an introduction, when I spoke before city council yesterday, I did NOT mention that I was a candidate for State Senate. I had too much else to say. My name, email and an audio snip was part of the CDs I passed to all on council, but that was hardly spoken about in the talk at the podium.

Yesterday, at the end of the meeting, Sala Udin ranted about a few matters including the public comment elements of the meetings. He has introduced new legislation that is to more tightly define what can be spoken from the citizens. I've asked the city's clerk for a copy of the pending bill. When it arrives, I'll post it.

The citizens have three days to submit a petition to call for a public hearing on the bill. That might occur. Perhaps Sala should have called for a public hearing himself.

Twanda C. wants to co-sponsor the legislation too.

On the flip side, Councilman Alan H. said that the public comment should not be vulgar, but anything else needs to be protected.

This matter is coming to a boil, in part, because of some cruel attacks. For example, one citizen noted how Sala was missing at a meeting a few weeks ago and asked if he was at another "funeral." The next day Sala's brother died.

No doubt, trash talk and personal attacks are not welcomed in any realm. Hurtful elements are to be avoided, and I do my best to do so myself. Furthermore, I do my best to fix, right, or touch up when things go nutty on the part of others as I can.

Public officials need a thick skin.

Public comment needs a wide latitudes.

Free speech needs to be free.

Sala hopes to end political campaign mentions at the podium. It can't happen in the real world. And, it should NOT happen.

The crying shame of this all is the fact that Sala can rant on cable tv for minutes and replay some of the slogans first spoken by Tom Murphy. Sala called for ICA (oversight board) to be abolished. Then in the next breath he won't allow for others to make political mentions.

It is time for those who can't play well -- and work well -- with others to quit. QUIT.

All in all, this makes another great example of how we drive people away from Pittsburgh. The people who come before council should be embraced. The people who take the time to give their comments are the ones who have not quit. We care. We are the fighters.

If I was in council, I'd invite everyone who speaks before that body to a monthly or seasonal picnic. Let's all go out and break bread together. Make it dutch. I'd offer a banquet for the friends of Pittsburgh to come and sit among those who you may or may not have had agreement with in the past.

Even as mayor, that would be a great idea and nobel act.

How about a thank you note or email or follow-up phone call to say, "good point, thanks for your input."

Contributors should not be mistreated. Idea contributors are the best kind.

In an on-going matter, another council member, Len B., ranted about the topics of public comment a couple of weeks ago. Len also talked with a great innuendo in his rant. I called his office to seek clarification three or four times. I emailed his office twice. Never a reply. I asked him if he thought any of my comments before city council had ever been out of bounds. I can assume that his lack of reply means of course not. ??? It was a serious question, placed off line, until now.

I don't want to be hailed as a champion of public comment, always sticking to the bills before council and never giving out my web address. But, I do want to point out how the goofyness continues on Grant Street. And, this is another instance when I'll be on the victor's side.

It made sense to set the special election date to May 17, and that was talked about by me in prior weeks. That was on-topic, as it saved the taxpayers $200,000. It makes sense to hit the "mute button" to catch four-letter words. But that's it.

"QUIT" is a four letter word that should be tolerated. Quit trying to shred The Constitution. Quit trying to block the Sunshine Law. Quit ranting yourself while trying to stop others from a small opportunity to share views. Quit walking within the shaddow of Tom Murphy. And, perhaps it is time to quit and move to the private sector Sala. Otherwise, I worry about people voting with their feet and choosing to quit living in Pittsburgh.


Mark Rauterkus said...

We believe people ought to be able to express themselves. We believe that people ought to be able to decide upon the fate of their government.

(G.W. Bush on USA's stay in Iraq, spoken today.)

Anonymous said...

Sala needs to go.