Letter: Don’t force speakers at meeting to give address

From: Ken Fudge


I attended the Columbus City Council meeting on the evening of April 18 and wanted to ask a question. As I was given the floor to speak by Mayor Jim Lienhoop, he asked for my name and address. I stated that I did not wish to state my address, but I did state my name. I stated that I was not willing to compromise my personal safety and security by giving my address and that people pay large sums of money to protect such information as we were broadcasting live on the internet.

Councilman Frank Jerome felt I was out of order and stated, “Comply and speak … don’t comply, don’t speak,” and even went as far as to ask for a vote by the City Council on the matter. He stated rudely, interrupting me as I was speaking and had been granted the floor, that it was against the rules. His request was denied by the mayor, who runs the meeting. Mr. Jerome then packed up his papers and made a scene of leaving the meeting in progress.

Upon questioning other past and present elected city officials, there are no written rules, and the meeting is conducted by Robert’s Rules of Order. There is no legal requirement to give one’s address.

I was not asking for a special exception for myself. I feel it is ridiculous for a resident to have to give their address and serves no purpose but to be used as a tool of intimidation. In any hotly debated issue emotions run high. There is the potential for a violent act to occur away from City Hall at one’s home. In such an environment, one who wishes to speak against the City Council or mayor may have a perception that there will be retaliation for speaking against or criticizing the current administration or its policies or agenda.

It is just good common sense to disregard this practice. I was recently suspended from Facebook for violating community standards for posting the addresses of the mayor and City Council members. If a social media company like Facebook feels it is wrong, then why can’t our mayor and City Council? Someone must agree with me in this regard as they notified Facebook of the post.

The City Council and mayor of this city are to serve the public. In doing so, they could wait until after the meeting and approach the ones who have spoken and ask their address then and direct them to their council representative. This would be a good opportunity to interact with the public and engage them on issues without subjecting them to intimidation. Isn’t that the type of city government we should want and strive for? Isn’t the merit of the words spoken more important than who speaks them? Intimidation is easy; working together in an environment of respect is much harder to attain, but offers much better results. The practice of having to state one’s home address must end.