George Scott’s Commentary in last week’s Benson News-Sun, while purporting to clear some things up, instead added more confusion. He conflated the council’s right to NOT have a Call to the Public on a meeting agenda with the council’s violation of my open speech rights when they DID have a Call to the Public on their July 22, 2019 agenda. You can listen to the audio of the council meeting for yourself. You only need to listen to the last two minutes to hear the council adjourning without allowing me to speak.
I’m equally bemused and proud that I’m so scary to the Benson City Council that they have removed Call to the Public on the meeting agenda so that they don’t have to face me. For those who don’t know me, I stand 5 feet tall and I’m 69 years old. Not what usually comes to mind for someone intimidating. Or in the words of George Scott, I “browbeat and bullied” the city council into feeling they had to remove Call to the Public from the agenda to escape my words. In doing so, however, the council is denying all members of the public the chance to speak to the council.
I’m perfectly willing to sit down and talk with council members, as suggested by George Scott in last week’s commentary, but how would that happen? In an open meeting or work session, which is the only appropriate way to “sit down with Council members”?
The Office of the Arizona Attorney General, in response to a complaint I filed, has decided that the Benson City Council did indeed violate the Open Meeting Law of Arizona at their July 22 meeting. To resolve the matter, the AG’s “Office requires that the Council acknowledge this letter’s conclusion at a duly noticed Council meeting”.
Benson’s solution? To put the acknowledgment on the consent agenda, so there will be no direct public mention of the AG’s letter. And the packet for council, which is also available to the public, does not contain the text of the AG’s letter. Would you like to know what it says?
George Scott then goes on to name me as “anti-growth, anti-progress”. I don’t think George and I have ever had a meaningful conversation, so he may be unaware of my deeply held concerns for the environment and for following the law (see my Open Meeting Law complaint). He is ascribing views to me without any basis for doing so. Lawsuits are not filed frivolously, despite what some people believe, and they are filed when people think laws are being broken. Then a judge makes a decision about the merits of the case. That is how our system works.
I love the San Pedro River and the life it supports. I will continue to work for its protection however I can. And that would include sitting down with Benson city council members or Vigneto representatives, anytime they are willing.