To the Editor:
As a non-lawyer promoting transparency, I ran into trouble trying to convey an improvement opportunity to the Madison County Board.
I videoed and spoke at their March 19 meeting. I barely got started when Chairman Alan Dunstan used his gavel and presented me with the “Procedure for Public Input at County Board Meetings.” The last sentence of Rule 9 was underlined.
It said, “Shouting, loud statements, threats, name-calling, offensive personal references or other improper conduct are strictly forbidden. Each presentation shall be in consonance with good taste and the decorum befitting the occasion and the dignity of the meeting.”
After I said, “--I now know that Vanessa---“ the chairman rapped his gavel and said I was not allowed to use names or personal references or anything of that nature. He then gave me a copy of the procedures. I asked if he was aware of the First Amendment and Dunstan said, “I am familiar with the First Amendment.”
I started again saying that a person had a 8.9 percent pay increase and was again gaveled. Dunstan said, “You are bringing personal items up again and are not allowed to do that.” The rules state offensive personal references and my saying an employee receiving a raise is certainly not offensive. The video shows State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, sitting at the left hand of the Chairman, started staring at me at this time.
Considering the eavesdropping law, I wonder what would’ve happened if I had filibustered.
It is my opinion that the board audiotapes the meetings.