Is Moving the Columbus Council Public Agenda a Move to Chill Free Speech?

   The Ledger-Enquirer’s Ben Wright writes (I know I used that phrase before, but I like it) that Columbus Council public agenda regulars Paul Olson, Bert Coker, and Bill Madison oppose moving the public agenda to the end of the meetings, with Madison also opposing the use of a traffic light to keep speakers within the 5-minute limit. The only problem I see with moving it is the perception that it is a move to chill free speech.  Whether it really is or not is debatable. And, as far as I am concerned, I have no problem with holding speakers to a five-minute limit.  If 5 minutes isn’t enough to get your message across, send an email.  All councilors have email addresses.

  Columbus Council is to be commended for giving time to citizens to speak to them. Not to do it will require a new ordinance, because the public agenda is placed right before the city manager agenda by an ordinance that Council passed years ago. Council could vote not to have a public agenda at all if it wished to do that.  The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but it doesn’t specify where, when, or how much time a speaker gets. And, as my good friend, former Bob Barr Jordan High band member (he played great trumpet)  and fellow Rotarian, Robert George says, “it doesn’t require that anyone has to listen.”

Council votes on the proposal to move the public agenda next week.

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