Americus city council members move to mute public comments - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Americus city council members move to mute public comments

Craig Walker, Americus Resident Craig Walker, Americus Resident
Margo Mitchell, Americus Resident Margo Mitchell, Americus Resident
Barry Blount, Americus Mayor Barry Blount, Americus Mayor
AMERICUS, GA (WALB) -

On Thursday, Americus city council members got a first look at an ordinance that would prohibit comments from the public during council meetings.

They voted down a motion by one member to table the idea indefinitely.

"That is not going to work," said Americus resident Margo Mitchell. "We need to be face to face with these people we elect so they can see our emotions, so they can see our eyes, so they can see our heart."

"If this government of the people, for the people and by the people, why are you afraid to hear from the people that you represent?" questioned resident Craig Walker.

The council will take an initial vote on the ordinance at their next meeting. Supporters say some citizens abuse their chance to speak at meetings by personally attacking council members.

"Council members are concerned about the tone of some people," said Americus Mayor Barry Blount. "Individuals who have been coming to council the last few months. So we are just concerned about the tone of the people that have been speaking."

The ordinance would only allow members of the community to submit concerns in writing. Critics say city leaders shouldn't be so easily offended.

"They just don't understand that they are politicians," Walker said. "You are not above criticism. Look at President Obama, don't you think he would like to shut down FOX News? But this is America, it doesn't matter if they like you are not, it's your constitutional right to address them."

Mayor Blount disagrees with that notion.

"Speaking in public meetings is not a constitutional right, it is a privilege," Blount said.

Some on the city council believe it has been abused. Nonetheless, these residents say they will fight to make sure their voices are heard.

Copyright 2014 WALB. All rights reserved.

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