Letter: Encourage communication between public, officials

From: Kenneth Fudge


The Republic recently published a letter to the editor from a Columbus city councilman. It was in regard to my refusal to give my address, prior to speaking to the city council and mayor. He states that I was disrespectful and lied to the council and was lucky I wasn’t banned from the council meetings for up to a year.

I was disrespectful to no one. I did not interrupt any speaker who had the floor, and after I was given the floor to speak was subject to interruption by the councilman in question, even after the mayor had to remind the councilman that it was his meeting and he would run it as he saw fit. The councilman chose to get up, kick his chair and slam the door in leaving the meeting while I was speaking. These are the actions of someone who is being rude and disrespectful.

In response to the claim that I lied to the mayor and council, I did not. An address was given that I knew was well-known and that the mayor would know as I was trying to prove my point. If it were my intent to attempt to use a fraudulent address to deceive the mayor and council, I would have given a much more unrecognizable address that no one would question. To make the claim that I lied to the council is presumptuous and false.

The councilman states in his letter that the resident was lucky he wasn’t banned from city council meetings for a year. To do so would have set a precedent. In my research of the rules concerning city council meetings, I found nothing that would lend itself to supporting this claim. In my opinion this is just another attempt by this councilman to intimidate the residents of this city and a true glimpse of the character of this public official.

The councilman’s letter states, “As usual, most of the four or five avid supporters of our former mayor came to the meeting.” I was there representing no one but myself and my belief in transparency and good ethical government. The current administration and mayor have held office for almost two years, and the election is over, sir. The moniker he attempts to place on residents who are concerned about their local government and who are brave enough to be engaged and speak before a council and endure the intimidation speaks volumes about him and his motivations. I think he needs to move on and put that election behind him.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop has stated that the public’s right to know what their government is doing is inviolate. I believe their right to speak to a body of their elected officials is also inviolate. There should be an open discussion period prior to the end of the council meetings for this to occur. Any form of respectful communication, whether it be criticism or praise, between residents and their government should be encouraged, not controlled or withheld.