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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Souza says ACLU Complaint filed over public comments at May 12 Council meeting--Council shuts down free speech disucssion

Normally minutes of the Crossville city council meetings are handled in the consent agenda without discussion or controversy. That was not the case during the June regular meeting.

Council member Pete Souza requested that the minutes be pulled from the consent agenda and acted upon separately. Minutes for May 17 and 23 meeting were approved with no discussion and councilman Jesse Kerley moved to approve the minuets of the regular May meeting held on May 12.

Souza addressed the minutes saying the city attorney Will Ridley had looked into the matter of paraphrasing the actions at the meeting in the minutes. Souza added that there was nothing wrong with that practice. “However,” Souza continued, “there are some omissions in exactly what was said.”

Souza said a constituent came to him and showed a complaint that was turned over to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on an alleged violation of First Amendment rights and that was the reason for his pulling the matter aside to discuss.

“What comes of that (complaint), I don't know,” said Souza. “I'm not involved with it. So basically, at this point I want to make a comment that the contents of May 12 are not inclusive of everything that was said at that meeting.”

A roll call vote on approving the minutes passed unanimously with council member Pamala Harris absent.




Near the end of the agenda, Mr. Souza had requested an item to discuss what was captioned as “Discussion and possible action on failure to comply with the standard rules and Robert's Rules of Order during the May 12, 2016 regular scheduled meeting, and violation of first amendment rights.”

The main thrust of the first amendment complaint is that council members interrupted a public comment by Jeff Dahlberg at the end of the May 12 meeting during his three minutes telling him that he could not make public attacks against any council members during his time to speak. Dahlberg was speaking on behalf of the Crossville Recall and Crossville Citizens for Good Government website.

Souza started out on the item saying he was requesting three minutes to address the issues involved and after comments from Mr. Kerley about what procedure should be followed, Souza moved that he be allowed the time he requested and the matter was supported by Mayor Mayberry. Kerley stressed that any discussion should be on the motion only and not Mr. Souza's comments. A vote on the motion to allow Souza to speak was quickly voted down in another tie vote with Souza and Mayberry in favor, Wyatt and Kerley opposed.


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