Only Gruendl-approved Speech is Free?
Wow. What in the world is happening with Mayor Gruendl? He has been on the Council for 12 years, and he is just now noticing and condemning public speech that criticizes the City? It seems as though he has been living in an alternate universe lately.
He seems particularly concerned with what Alicia, Quené, and I have been saying during Business from the Floor. He made a snarky remark to Quené at the August 20 meeting. When I called him on it during the September 3 meeting, he busted his cool and interrupted me mid-sentence to scold me, and then said, “You asked for that!”
In case any of you missed it, he also held a press conference just before the September 3 meeting to complain about people complaining. Luckily, we found out about it in time to attend. He attempted to tie our three 3-minute free speech sessions to racism, threats, and violence. We have neither engaged in, nor encouraged, any of those things.
One of his chief complaints was related to a threat made in the Chico Enterprise-Record’s “Tell it to the ER” column, having to do with heads on spikes in the downtown roundabout. We learned via a September 15 Enterprise-Record editorial that it keeps track of names and phone numbers associated with that column, which leaves us wondering whether Mayor Gruendl already knew who was responsible for the threat but needed to inflame his audience by lobbing it out there while discussing the three of us. We don’t care for violent threats either, and especially don’t appreciate being lumped together with the types of individuals who would make such graphic comments, simply as a means to discourage our truth-telling at the podium. Bad form.
What we have been doing is criticizing the City, which is specifically protected under the Brown Act:
We are former employees who paid a very dear price to stand at that podium and speak openly without fear of retaliation. If the Council takes issue with what we say, any questions or challenges should be made while we are still there and able to respond. The public has an unfettered right to speak the truth in those meetings, and the Council does not get to pre-approve what is said.
Here is a news article about the Mayor’s press conference:
Here is David Little’s editorial about “Tell it to the ER”:
As always, your comments and questions are welcome.
Truth Matters, Chico!