Voice of the People
Residents' voices quashed at meeting
Do the citizens of Huntington really have freedom of speech at City Council meetings? At the Sept. 24 meeting, our neighbors and friends in Highlawn found that precious freedom sorely missing in the proceedings to our utter shock and dismay.
This council meeting involved the rezoning of a piece of property in the Highlawn community for a gun shop. Truly it could be deemed a classic case of spot rezoning. However, prior to our speaking at the meeting, we were instructed by the chair of council to refrain from using the phrase "gun shop" in reference to the stipulated business. It seems that the council members as well as their attorney may be unfamiliar with the U.S. Constitution, which gives citizens freedom of speech especially when speaking in a public forum. Perhaps a history lesson is in order.
To curtail free expression of a law-abiding, taxpaying citizen while speaking before council by reprimands for the mention of gun shop and spot rezoning is clearly outside the parameters of the law, specifically those rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
This meeting provided a scary and realistic insight into the city government of Huntington. Council members repeatedly stated both at the meeting and in the media that they shouldn't have to be concerned about what business is established on a property they are voting to rezone. Again, scary!
Hopefully, new faces on the council will once again, as in the past, reflect the wishes of the citizens in the districts of Huntington instead of the outside interests of persons from other states with their own agendas, which may be disruptive of neighborhoods.
In summation, we must never forget the phrase is "We the people," not "We the council."
Jane Peterson and Cindy Jeffords