Selective freedom of speech

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During this week’s New Bern Board of Aldermen meeting, member Victor Taylor apparently realized how he sounds while speaking after reviewing the minutes from the previous one in which important business took place, such as his discussion on the wonderful service he recently received while eating at Outback.

No, the steakhouse didn’t pay for the rambling endorsement as far as we are aware. However, it may take a FOIA request to verify this.

Apparently, the clerk mixed up a friend’s name. OK, no biggie. The board agreed to the change without much pause.

Now, here’s where the absurdity comes in. He wanted the verbiage of a direct quote in the minutes altered. Because he needed to sound intelligent, he wanted the written history of a meeting changed. Perhaps someone should explain integrity and ethical standards to Mr. Taylor.

Amazingly, someone challenged the request – Alderman Pat Schaible. Gasp. Not a good move on anyone’s part because he is apparently infallible.

Taylor actually argued there was no need to check the tape or rather, the facts. If he said something it is fact. He was quite visibly angered at the mere suggestion and the bickering ensued.

My hope is everyone remembers this at the polls. This is who you gave your voice to. While some may argue it was a minor change, it brings into question the validity of every set of closed meeting minutes. (By the way, those notes are public record but they are sparse. According to Public Record Laws though, a reasonable person should be able to understand the topic of discussion.)

The part that we should all be concerned about (besides the obvious lack of ethical standards) is that this board, as well as every other local board in Craven County, limits the freedom of speech during the open forum portion of official meetings by setting a time limit on everyone “allowed” to speak. Yet, as Alderman Taylor said, he is authorized to say anything he wants during his report to the board. And there is no time restraint to the ramblings.

And if you don’t think elected officials should have a time limit, you have obviously never attended a late-night Craven County Board of Commissioners’ meeting to hear about gas rates.

So, as the primary approaches at the national level and even the smaller local ones, remember who you are silencing yourself for. Yes, you have the right to vote and freedom of speech but you still lose your voice in the shuffle.

And unfortunately, sometimes your silence is replaced by commentary on a good meal.

2 thoughts on “Selective freedom of speech

  1. Excellent article. I certainly know all about the gas price and all the other gas some of our elected officials like to go on about ad nauseum. Thanks for speaking up.

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