Letter: Council tries to limit free speech

Editor,

Stallings Councilman Fred Weber made a request at this week’s town meeting that “all public emails and comments to the media, unless authorized by a majority of the council, clearly state that it is an individual council member’s personal opinion.” This is something that has been attempted in the past in Stallings. It also is not a surprise that it has surfaced once again with a newly elected council majority.

While Mr. Weber may wish or desire such disclaimers, I personally believe citizens of Stallings deserve to hear from their elected officials. I also believe we are smart enough to recognize “personal opinion.”

Citizens can easily access the town website full of recordings and written meeting minutes for information. Councilmen Frost, Dunn and Mayor Paxton choose to personally provide ample feedback to the public. They are the only ones on council that I am aware of who routinely welcome accountability and feedback by emailing newsletters and writing editorials to the paper reflecting their views on the issues. Their newsletters and letters have never purported to be from the council as a whole.

For example, in Frost’s recent newsletter, he used the words I, I’m, I’ve, me, our family or me 27 times. He also signed his newsletter with his name and his personal telephone number. A recent letter to the editor by Mayor Paxton used the words I’d, me, my and I and the very first sentence began with the phrase “I’d like to make a brief response.” Clearly, their statements reflected their own viewpoints.

If the personal statements and opinions from other elected officials bother some council members, perhaps they should use their time to send out their own newsletters to inform citizens of their own viewpoints and welcome the same accountability some on council already do. That would be a far better use of their time then attempting to silence others or trying to mandate disclaimers on free speech.

Jill E. Reed
Stallings

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3 Responses

  1. I should also note that the discussion topic by Mr. Weber was quite ironic since this week is also North Carolina’s Sunshine Week 2012 and that item was also on the Council’s agenda. One of the purposes of Sunshine week is to inform and educate citizens that “the free flow of information from the government to the people instills trust and confidence in our democracy and esnures that our government is accessible, accountable and open.”

    For citizens interested in more information on town matters from a citizen perspective — please visit http://www.StallingsFactCheck.com.

  2. Mr. Weber….many of us appreciate, and welcome the updates provided by Mayor Paxton, Paul Frost, and Wyatt Dunn. It is clear that they are the writer’s opinion, therefore no disclaimer necessary. You, Ms. Steele, Mr. Stokes and Mr. Esarove do not need to worry that anything ntelligent would be atrributed to any of you.

  3. I also find it interesting that those claiming that residents might be confused that one’s opinion might be construed as speaking for the entire council, have no issue with the website http://www.stallingspd.com, there is no disclaimer, and there are residents who thought this website IS run by the police department. I believe Ms. Steele was a frequent contributor to this site. The person who owns and runs this site is free to do so under his constitutional rights, no matter how confusing or misleading.

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