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Freedom of speech carries with it a great responsibility


August 03, 2005 - It's interesting to hear some Mehl-ville Fire Protection District residents who are complaining about the new majority of the Board of Direc-tors, particularly with regard to changes in the procedures for public comment and correspondence.

No bigger supporter of freedom of speech exists than the Call. We're always willing to go to bat for anyone who believes their right of freedom of speech is being denied.

Some people believe that because they submit a letter to a governmental body, it must be read and acknowledged in public. No such law exists.

We would hope, however, that a re-sponsible government entity would re-spond to legitimate inquiries.

Let it be crystal clear that we're not referring to Sunshine Law requests as that law has specific guidelines that must be adhered to when information is requested from a governmental entity.

But we firmly believe that personal attacks do not warrant any kind of re-sponse whatsoever. We're all adults, so let's get past the name calling, the snide insinuations and the outright character assassinations that some are trying to perpetuate. No need exists for that kind of crud.

Whether you like newly elected board members Aaron Hilmer and Bonnie Stegman or not, they were duly elected by voters and deserve the respect that comes with their positions. If you don't like the job they're doing, then vote them out of office when their seats are up for election. That's how our great country works — the majority rules.

As we've always said, freedom of speech carries with it a great responsibility. We don't dispute the need for civility and decorum at meetings of our elected representatives. Quite candidly, the public comment rules imposed by the new board aren't that outrageous, although we do believe employees should be allowed to address the board.

But the memorandum of understanding between Local 1889 and the board states quite clearly, "Union members, except for the union president or his designee, shall not bypass the chief or his designee in the chain of command in presenting any problems pertaining to the memorandum of understanding.''

It's simple: If you want to address the MFPD board — or any board for that matter — be civil, polite and re-spectful. If you're not treated the same way in return, we'll be the first newspaper to report that.

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