Letter: Personal info disclosure, intimidation at City Hall

From: Ken Fudge


I have attended many Columbus City Council meetings and Mayor Lienhoop has made it a standard practice whereby the resident who addresses the city council is made to stand and give their name and personal address before speaking to the city council with a comment or question. If you do not automatically give your name and address, Lienhoop will inform you that you must give them before allowing you to speak.

The former administration did not require this information before allowing you to speak. In stark contrast to Mayor Lienhoop, there was a period of open comment at the end of each meeting, where the resident could address the city council on any issue or make any comment they chose whether it be critical of the mayor or council or not.

These meetings only take place twice a month where the public gets to interact with the collective body of the city council and raise concerns and issues. It is my opinion that the resident should be allowed to speak on any topic without having to compromise his security and safety by being forced to divulge his personal address.

I recently posted the addresses of the mayor and city council on social media (Facebook) and my account was suspended for 30 days and the post was removed. After someone complained, Facebook decided that my post violated community standards because the post contained personal addresses. If a social media platform such as Facebook feels this is wrong, why can’t Mayor Lienhoop and the city council see it as wrong also?

The address of the resident speaking to the council doesn’t have to become a part of the record. The name of the resident should serve the required record well enough. The citizen should not be intimidated by having to endure this.

This is but one component of the intimidation created by the Lienhoop administration. I have sent emails with questions to city council members only to get no response. I then had to file a public information request on the city’s form using a PDF that is user unfriendly. Then having done so, I sent it via email, only to have it placed on a spreadsheet and released to the local media and my name vilified as having cost the city thousands of dollars. I don’t think three people sending 11 public information requests in a year constitutes vilifying them, and the claim that it cost the city thousands of dollars appears quite ludicrous to me. After all, it is the city administration’s job to answer these requests.

In my opinion, shutting down public comment at the end of business in a city council meeting, requiring a resident to jeopardize his and his family’s security and safety by having to state his personal address publicly, keeping count and releasing to the media the names of the people filing public information requests, verbally attacking them for respectfully stating their criticisms and opinions to the council, all point to intimidation by the current city administration.