The short-lived era of unfettered free expression of the people has been unceremoniously abolished by newly minted Mayor Keith Short who has reverted back to when the city’s most tyrannical autocrat, ousted mayor Gary Moody [AKA “King Moody”] reigned supreme by reinstating the king’s prohibition on citizens from speaking for more than three minutes during the Citizens Comments portion of regular meetings.
Of course, in addition to his financial contributions and his work as a strategist for Short’s mayoral campaign, Moody also created the Neighbors for McLendon-Chisholm, a political action committee that worked in concert with the campaign spending thousands of dollars mailing misinformation to voters with baseless fabricated claims against the same conservatives that had thrown him out office two years ago.
In contrast before Short, as his very first act as mayor, Robert Steinhagen rescinded what taxpayers had referred to as the Moody Rule to guarantee that all citizens could express their opinions and ideas to the Council unencumbered. In fact, during his entire tenure as mayor, no M-C citizen was denied the right to speak about any topic or topics for as long as they wished to speak, so long as the citizen didn’t ask questions that demanded an answer from the Council on the spot due to legal prohibitions, which was expressed by the Mayor each time he was about to open the floor to citizens.
Back when he announced the rescindment of the Moody Rule, Steinhagen declared, “while I am sure that there will be times when I may disagree with what a citizen might say I believe it is important to defend our citizen’s fundamental right to speak freely because, while most politicians may talk about their belief in the First Amendment of the Constitution, I stand on the conviction of that belief, which should not be infringed upon and especially by elected officials.”
However, after just three meetings Short ended the freedom that Steinhagen had implemented and protected for citizens.
Infringement equally applied
Back when King Moody ruled, the 3-minute limit was arbitrarily applied. Those who dared speak in opposition to him would be abruptly interrupted the moment that the king had decided a citizens time was up. Conversely, those who stood to either lavish praises upon the king or attack those that questioned or opposed his actions found their freedom to speak was without limit to time.
Steinhagen stated, “Leftists are all about openness and tolerance, so long as you agree with them, which is why when they take to power their first act is typically one of tyranny, in Short’s case, like it was when Moody reigned supreme, it is to curtail citizens from speaking freely because they must suppress all opposition and ensure that others can’t hear it as well.”
However, thanks to Mayor-Pro-Tem Scott Turnbull who has taken it upon himself to actually keep track of time, the 3-minute time limit to speak is actually applied to all citizens, not just the ones who may oppose Short.
Not short on hypocrisy
Unsurprisingly, Short has ignored the fact that as a candidate for mayor last March & April he regularly took more than seven minutes during the citizen comments portion of meetings, including two consecutive diatribes berating Steinhagen and other members of the council for not looking at citizens the entire time that they were speaking arguing that they should be paying attention and listening to the people.
This despite the fact that Steinhagen proposed and implemented the city’s two citizen survey’s in less than two years that proactively sought the opinions of the people and despite the fact that 95% of those who speak during citizens comments are the same people that opposed Mayor Steinhagen’s stand against the expansion of municipal government & higher taxes, as well as his outspoken fight to uphold the city’s 1.5 acre minimum per homesite standard to protect the wide open spaces that helps set M-C apart from other communities.
Steinhagen predicts that the next shoe to drop will be a limitation on what citizens can talk about in those three minutes, which was something that King Moody did frequently whenever he believed that a citizen was getting “off topic.”
Time will tell.