The city council’s shocking effort to stifle free speech by the residents of the city wanting to comment during the public speaking portion of the meeting is dangerous. It is evil.
It is anti-democratic.
It is sick and twisted.
It is wrong.
Anyone who watched the chaotic proceedings Monday night should be outraged.
Stifling free speech will do more to induce added chaos than to reduce it.
When 9-16 men and women have signed up to have their say and the council president warns them at the start that they all must somehow speak within a ten minute window is a serious infringement of the First Amendment right to speak.
Council President John Hanlon warning that going over the ten minutes reserved for public speaking is illegal is absolute foolishness.
It is a lie. It is a make believe law.
Hanlon’s dislike for extended public speaking sessions was evident.
Many believed he was doing the mayor’s business for him.
When Hanlon first denied Councilors Stephanie Smith and Mike Marchese’s motion to allow more time for the speakers, he told Smith to basically keep her mouth shut.
“I’m not going to listen to you,” he said sternly to her in a moment of outrage.
Smith was shocked and dismayed. She is too respectful to complain about the threats coming from an older man who ought to know better.
Hanlon later apologized to her.
Hanlon, however, does not believe residents should be allowed to speak.
He tries to stop free speech instead of endorsing it.
He bangs his gavel and says “I will not stand for this” when he should be banging his gavel and saying how proud he is to see residents coming to meetings, speaking out and wanting to be heard.
Hanlon’s repeated efforts to quiet down the crowd incensed the speakers. He referred to them as “you guys,” as though they are rabble.
The public speakers showed they will not stand for this form of exclusion. They shouldn’t stand for it. They should be treated with respect by the elected city government.
What all of us witnessed Monday night inside the council chamber was the city council out of control, at odds with free speech, at odds with itself, heading in the wrong direction down a primrose path.
Councilors Hanlon, Stephanie Martin, and Anthony DiPierro have banded together at the expense of the rest of the council.
DiPierro’s presence from week-to-week on the council has become poisonous. He is a council wrecker – and none of his colleagues will make a comment about it.
The requests for his resignation are mounting. The councilors are having to pay for DiPierro’s sins and they don’t seem to mind.
DiPierro’s presence on the council is tearing the council apart but the council doesn’t get it.
The council stands for DiPierro – and so – the council will pay the price for standing up for racism instead of standing together against racism.
The chaos is not going to end.
The meetings with DiPierro present will grow angrier and angrier.
DiPierro’s behavior was outrageous.
DiPierro and his girlfriend and chief supporter Councilor Martin blasted City Clerk Sergio Cornelio with a rash of hate inspired obscenities.
Cornelio did not return to the session when it reconvened following two ten minute recesses.
“Why should he be forced to put up with such repugnant behavior?” Councilor Mike Marchese said to the Leader Herald.
There is no telling how this drama ends up being played out.
This we know…the more the council attempts to stifle free speech, the angrier residents are going to become.
We feel sorry for Hanlon. It is not his place nor is it his role to be weighed down with the responsibility of taking away free speech from Everett residents wanting to have their say.
Until DiPierro resigns, the council meetings will be chaotic.
Until the council learns that stifling free speech is a crime, not allowing the people to speak their minds has the potential of running Everett into racist soaked plethora of outrage.
The mayor should step up to the plate to make it clear that the people must be allowed to speak.
Mayor DeMaria can’t do this. He won’t do this.
DiPierro is family. DiPierro is his campaign manager. DiPierro is a vote to get rid of Cornelio as the city clerk.
The mayor is not in favor of free speech. He prefers retaliation to free speech. There’s the rub.