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jewel of their souls. Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands. But he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed." Shakespeare s Othello, Act 3, Scene 3 I was tempted to keep my thoughts to myself on the commission meeting last night and the alleged free speech issue that ensued, but the more I thought about what the current Cooper City commission has done to destroy the rights of Cooper City residents lately, the more disgusted I get regarding what has been taking place since the last election on free speech issues. You can watch this clip if you don t want to sit through watching the entire meeting. I ve had a few recent issues in my own family life that are more important than the Mayor s rants and raves, like losing loved one s very close to me, but this one hits near and dear to my heart. You can read my thoughts herein on earlier blog posts. This is supposed to be a city close to the heart of democracy. Last night proved me wrong again Now, the great City of Cooper City has again embarrassed itself and is again in the news, albeit negatively, due to egos, Politricks and outright lies emanating from the commission dais. THIS ARTICLE takes the cake, and is mild compared to others, but the comments are disturbing. Then, we have to again be embarrassed by a follow-up article from the same news medium. Regarding the colloquy at last evening s commission meeting on item 14, Mrs. Wilson was right. On May 11 the Mayor did say that Governor Charlie Crist signed the Red-Light Camera Bill. A staunch fact. Maybe the Mayor chose to mislead the commission into believing that the Bill was signed since she so desperately needed the support for her revenue generation scheme, but maybe the Mayor was simply confused regarding the issue with regards to the Legislature simply passing the Bill for subsequent signature by the Governor. I can say that it may have been an honest mistake, but this Mayor doesn t make mistakes, at least not in her eyes. A resident I spoke with contacted Shelly at Governor Crist s office (850-488-5394). She verified that HB325 was actually signed on 05/13/2010 and the ceremonial signing was on 05/18/2010. Regardless, Mrs. Wilson was not guilty of slander as falsely accused by the Mayor. The Mayor has been throwing that word around a lot lately, but maybe the Mayor should buy a Black s Law Dictionary and read it, which states "Certain words deemed slanderous are in themselves actionable, because the natural consequence of what they impute to the party is damage, as if they import a charge that the party has been guilty of a criminal offence involving moral turpitude, or that the party is infected with a contagious distemper, or if they are prejudicial in a pecuniary sense to a person in office or to a person engaged as a livelihood in a profession or trade; but in all other cases the party who brings an action for words must show the damage he or she has suffered by the false speaking of the other party." Give me a break. If you can t stand the heat Mayor, get out of the kitchen. Where have we heard that before? The common law protects every person from harm to their reputation by false and derogatory remarks about their person, known as defamation. Defamation must be a direct attack on an actual reputation, not an alleged reputation that a "victim" believes they deserve. There are a number of special defenses available against defamation: The "defamatory" remark was basically accurate, and a special privilege exists for remarks made in certain venues such as in a court room during trial or in a
legislative/commission assembly or one of its committees. George Washington once said "To persevere in one's duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny." If Ms. Wilson wants to rant, she is entitled to rant even if what she says is impertinent, inaccurate, or otherwise as delineated by the Commission Rules. Every word that every person says is subject to interpretation. The Mayor should have just let Mrs. Wilson have her say, and then allowed her to sit down and then proceed on to further business. But no the Mayor chose to take a cowardly, childish approach. When an active concerned citizen such as Mrs. Wilson comes up at a commission meeting to speak the truth, this is how unprofessional immature and inaccurate this embarrassment of a Mayor and the other commission members treat residents. It s not about what the resident, the employer says or wants; it s all about the individual commissioner and their political success or image. The attack on Mrs. Wilson was, in my mind, Elder Abuse. It was cowardly, childish, and immature and showed that the Mayor cannot simply control her emotions at the commission meetings, acting like a child, not an adult, with absolutely no leadership skills. Her demeanor was I can t handle it so I am going to angrily violate the rules and now we are all going home. At that point, the Mayor picked up her gavel and said I don t want to play anymore and I am going home and I m taking my playmates with me In addition to her nefarious actions and Elder Abuse, there may have been possible Sunshine Law violations and Robert s Rules violations regarding Recess in my opinion. The Mayor s angry outburst at Mrs. Wilson was bush league , stupid, and improper on a number of levels, including the fact that she tried to illegally shut down the meeting and stormed out of the room. Her competence and fitness for office has been in question in the past, like when she was caught drinking wine in a bar on the taxpayers' dime before a commissioner meeting, and as far as I'm concerned it in question again. Maybe a recall effort needs to be attempted on the Mayor! At least it won t be frivolous I did happen to speak to Mrs. Wilson earlier today and offered my apologies on behalf of the commission and she told me that she spoke to the Boy Scouts who were in the audience and witnessed the Mayor s lack of temper, and said to them; If you lie to Mommy & Daddy, don t you get into trouble? they all looked at her and said; Yes!, We would have been in a lot more trouble than that! I too have been the victim of a reckless campaign by Debby Eisinger and her cronies to publicly humiliate me and damage my reputation and it seems that it s OK to do so on the dais. In fact, I was again attacked without any validity on May 11th at the commission meeting, in violation of the rules which the Mayor so strenuously supported last evening, when I simply conveyed the facts and data regarding redlight cameras. I submitted the data as backup material for the benefit of the commission, rather than laws that were never signed by the Governor as alleged by the Mayor. I guess that the Tasteless, Inappropriate, Malicious, Slanderous post about red-light cameras posted herein is mild compared to this one (See this link @ 2H:52M:20S Mayor- I find the information posted on your blog quite tasteless, Inappropriate and @ 3H:17M:30S Slanderous, Malicious blog postings that are tasteless . You can hear my reply at 3H:21M:00S to :30S). In this clip recorded on May11th, Commissioner De Jesus joins the fray and says It makes good news, Enquirer type news because it s not accurate and I continue to try to send a message to the community, don t believe the hype, don t buy the twist, some people would be better DJ s because they
are spin masters than elected officials (Maybe he was talking about Debbie?), Um, we ve got to stop misleading the community Well, mislead by the Mayor was exactly what happened, yet it was OK for her to mislead, violate Roberts Rules and possibly Sunshine Laws, but again, it s OK because she is the Mayor. There have even been residents not only attacked by the Mayor and Commissioner De Jesus, but also by the City Attorney as well. The Mayor then called a recess which is not allowed under Roberts Rules. The Commissioner s got up and walked off of the dais. At that point I said to Commissioner Curran during the recess illegally called by the Mayor, sit back down, listen to what she has to say and have some respect. He walked out into the audience and sat down awaiting return of the Mayor. Then we must then address Commissioner Lisa Mallozzi who said during the recess; this is exactly how it s supposed to work . Commissioner Mallozzi, it s called Political Dissent and is the most protected form of Free Speech there is in America, and with that, you can t hide it behind the Boy Scouts. You were supposed to be the champion of such free speech when Resolution 09-2-3 was enacted, but now you take a different stance. I guess I have to ask I wonder which way the wind was blowing yesterday evening. The commission majority then returned to the dais after back room deliberations and voted to adjourn the meeting. After the meeting adjourned I spoke to Commissioner De Jesus who said that we are going backwards. Maybe, but Mrs. Wilson still had the right to say what she wanted to say without interruption, since it was indeed factual, and not slanderous. With all of that said, the Mayor's reaction was absurd and unprofessional. Public comments are supposed to be an exercise in free speech, by the informed and uninformed, the polite and the rude, the calm and the hysterical, the thoughtful and the unbalanced. A mayor who believes she is immune from inaccurate insults is a fool, and one who believes she can stifle them is a tyrant. I agree, the boy scouts should be able to handle watching a control freak Mayor as one person stated. What else would you expect from a seasoned civic leader? This issue may not be about the First Amendment It may very well be about not listening to residents and affording them the right to their input. The Boy Scouts, invited to the commission meeting by the Mayor, saw exactly how it is supposed to work, up until the part where the Mayor started her unprofessional rant. To cloak an obvious move to squelch speech the Mayor didn't like by invoking the children was indeed pitiful. Again, the government may not silence speakers on the basis of their viewpoint or the content of their speech regardless of what our city attorney says. It s just that simple. Speakers can be silenced if they are disruptive, and disruption has been defined to include far more than noisiness and interference, yet disruption does not include disagreements on the subject matter. Sometimes government officials need to silence disruptive citizens or prohibit endless repetition. However, other times Cooper City Commissioner s have squelched citizen speech because they want to suppress the message. Unfortunately, many situations have arisen in which citizens are silenced because of the content of their speech, or because they have disagreed previously with a city elected official. This raises the specter of censorship and is highly improper. The law is clear that government officials may not silence speech
because it criticizes them. They may not open a public comment period up to other topics and then carefully pick and choose which topics they want to hear or what dissent it wants to squelch, such as has happened recently by our Mayor and Commission. Government may not even silence someone because they consider him or her a gadfly or a troublemaker . Laws, rules or regulations that prohibit criticism or personal attacks against government officials have also been found to be illegal. A federal district court has recently struck down a commission rule that prohibited personal attacks during public comments at meetings. When a government decides to offer a public comment period at an open meeting, it provides that citizens may fully and freely exercise their First Amendment rights. When government creates a public comment forum, they have created a public forum in which greater free speech protections apply. Again, the government may not silence speakers on the basis of their viewpoint or the content of their speech regardless of what our city attorney says. It s just that simple. It is equally clear that the commission s concerns and interests in proscribing public commentary cannot outweigh the public fundamental right to engage in robust public discourse on any issue whatsoever. There previously has been a reckless disregard of speech in the commission chambers that has consisted of untrue and defamatory statements about citizens, including myself, with knowledge that it was false or with a reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, on both sides of the dais. Simply put, when you hear no political discourse, you know you are living in a dictatorship. That is exactly what has happened here in our special city All members of the commission should be rightfully ashamed! The Prime Minister of Israel put it this way, The test of democracy is freedom to criticize . Voltaire said, I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. This commission has recently made great strides in avoiding controversy at least to a certain point, and sometimes has done so to its detriment. I certainly hope we can continue to move forward rather than backwards. The Commission, more particularly the Chair, must have the backbone, courage and character to take a stand and do what s right for The People of Cooper City, not for their own political self interests and personal agendas. It is an affront to any civilized society that any speech whatsoever should be denied. The First Amendment guarantees the right to freely speak, but does not guarantee the speaker a public, government hosted forum. On the other hand, criticism of the electorate is needed to insure that elected officials understand what the voters and taxpayers (our employers) want and don t want, particularly in these trying and difficult economic times. In essence, your Cooper City Government must live up to its sacred oath of office and uphold the values embodied in the First Amendment I will say this my First Amendment rights start right here on this blog. If the Mayor and others think it is Tasteless, Inappropriate, Slanderous and Malicious , then maybe they should go back and re-read, and subsequently re-commit to their Oath of Office.
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