The Right to Speak

January 26, 2012
By

The right to speak before the Revere city council every week at the beginning of the meeting has been institutionalized over the years since its inception. That right for anyone in this city to speak for 3 minutes before the city council has not been challenged and should not be challenged.

Some councillors want to do away with the absolute right for anyone to speak before every legitimately convened meeting of the council.

Councillors Arthur Guinasso and Council President Richard Penta seem to think that by changing the rules a bit about the right to speak that something beneficial will be gained for this city and its people.

They want the right to speak to be limited to speaking on matters that are coming before the council only by those who take advantage of the 3 minute free speech ritual before every meeting.

In other words, they want to do away with the right as it now stands for any resident to come before the council and for 3 minutes to have their say about anything that is bothering them or which they believe should be changed at the beginning of every council meeting.

It is likely this desire for changing the rules of the free speaking period before the council has been caused by the same people coming up every week to have a political or personal say that can sometimes be at the expense of a councilor or councilors.

After all, the right to speak before the council about whatever one wishes should not allow the councilors to be bashed by that person or persons who make a habit of doing so.

However, the essence of the discussion should not be to stop certain people from coming up all the time as this is not so important as the fact they get to express themselves freely as residents of this city for better or worse.

The council cannot presume to make rules about what ought to be spoken about anymore than the council should restrict certain people from speaking.

To that end, we urge Councillor Brian Arrigo to kill the effort to obstruct free speech by killing the bill which is now before him in committee.

Free speech is the very essence of council meetings.

What’s good for the councilors should be good for residents who wish to speak.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5JMRUAKDIQLIHAFZFYYHUFLKM William

    I would like to thank the Revere Journal for their position on this issue. I agree that no councilor should be bashed at any public meeting. But citizens also have been bashed at previous meetings when trying to speak. A citizen should have the right to communicate in writing before any public meeting. The ward 3 Councilor is simply wrong trying to limit communications once a month for 3 minutes. He receives about $28,000 a year to serve as a part time councilor. He and others are supposed to sit and listen to us more than 3 minutes a month.

  • Anonymous

    Part of government procedure is that public entities are supposed to comply with open meetings laws, and residents have a right to be present and speak their mind.  It does not seem to follow that they should be limited to what they want or have to say.  But by the same token, yes, this doesn’t infringe on the rights of the politicians or other Revere citizens–present or not–to be defamed, or to have valuable time taken away from them to dialogue or vote on important issues on the table.  That said, if the proceedings in a particular evening’s meeting need to run late, then so be it.  If the Councilors should decide not to agree with or to like such a situation, then too bad and don’t choose to decide to run for or to be in public office.  It’s part of the job, not a privately owned company where the manager can decide when to lock the boardroom doors for the night or to outsiders.

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