Council Stifles Free Speech

Submitted to the Omaha World Herald and the Bellevue Leader on October 18, 2007.

At the last Bellevue City Council meeting Mon Oct 8, I had requested ahead of time in writing both to Mayor Babbitt and City Administrator Gary Troutman that I wished to speak about the contract of our new city attorney before it was approved that night. By City Code Sec. 2-69 I have the right to speak if the city council takes a vote to OK. There was no vote taken by the city council. I was denied that vote and the right to speak. City Councilwoman Dr. Hatcher and John Stacey Sr thought they were clever in quickly making a motion and second to approve the contract. Councilman Dave Sanborn fought to have me speak. Dr. Hatcher said it was too late because of the motion. Well, she was dead wrong and our new attorney Mr. Sullivan should have stepped in and said the city council had to vote in order for me to speak. The city attorney is the parliamentarian and should know the rules. Our last contracted very expensive city attorney John Herzina was not a very good parliamentarian. I expect better from our new contracted city attorney Pat Sullivan.

I am again requesting to address the city council on the city attorney’s contract. This time the council will vote and it will be interesting which ones believe in free speech. They could stop me from speaking this time, but remember next time it could be you that they deny the right to speak.

How to correct this problem. Do as Grand Island and many other cities do. They have open public hearings on any item that is on the agenda. Hopefully Dave Sanborn or some other council person will introduce a new ordinance that will accomplish this.

Chuck Fredrick,

Former Bellevue City Councilman

and mayoral candidate