“What I’ve uncovered is that this action is a violation of our – First Amendment”
– Resident Neil Oury
Loveland, Ohio – Immediately after Mayor Mark Fitzgerald spoke at the June 27 Council meeting, Vice-Mayor Angie Settle made a motion that adjourned the meeting, leaving residents who had signed up for “Open Forum”, nowhere to go but out the door. (Read: Mayor’s Kumbaya Moment pivots to Bye Y’all as Council meeting abruptly ends)
Settell, who had the votes she needed did not explain why she wanted the meeting adjourned. Discussion on the motion was not allowed. Settell has not responded to an inquiry from Loveland Magazine about the abrupt ending of the meeting.
Neal Oury was one resident who signed up to speak. Below, are the notes Oury carried with him for the speech that he was going to make that night. Settle’s motion prevented him from doing so. Oury gave them to Loveland Magazine before leaving so the community might benefit by what he wanted to say.
This is the second time in recent months that Settell has prevented Oury, who is leading a recall campaign against Mayor Mark Fitzgerald, from speaking freely at a Council meeting. (Read also: Here’s what Vice-Mayor Settle didn’t want you to know)
Neil Oury’s unedited notes:
1st Amendment & Council
Our mayor has imposed a zero tolerance policy for Applause, Outburst, Note Passing & Whispering. During the May 23 Council Meeting, Mark read an excerpt from the Ohio Open Meetings Act. I’m going to re-read it.
All meetings of any public body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times. A court found that members of a public body who whispered and passed documents among themselves constructively closed that portion of their meeting by intentionally preventing the audience from hearing or knowing the business the body discussed.967 However, the Open Meetings Act does not provide (or prohibit) attendees the right to be heard at meetings, and a public body may place limitations on the time, place, and manner of access to its meetings, as long as the restrictions are content neutral and narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest. Further, a disruptive person waives his or her right to attend meetings, and the body may remove that person from the meeting. Public body = council
Clapping is a means of expressing approval of a person or action
At the last council meeting, for clapping – my wife and several others were asked to leave the council meeting. I have investigated the legality of this action
What I’ve uncovered is that this action is a violation of our – First Amendment
This First Amendment – Freedom of Speech gives us:
The right to express our opinions without censorship and without restraint
It dictates that any allowable behavior remain consistent
Meaning: Allowing clapping at any time during the meeting, allows clapping during the entire meeting
Henceforth, if our mayor continues to disallow clapping, this will be a First Amendment – Freedom of Speech violation and would be subject to litigation. I don’t & no one else wants to sue the City for this. And THIS is so easily rectified
Mark, put down your gavel! STOP violating our Freedom of Speech. Or disallow clapping during the entire meeting (including presentations & awards) which would be a very unpopular decision
Loveland is a community filled with interested residents, very apparent by the number of people attending these council meetings. The council meetings (are public meetings) they belong to ALL of us, and not just council
So I’m going to suggest a resolution for this: those who want to clap – CLAP
If you do CLAP, Let’s keep it to a minimum – as not to extend the business meeting
Now – the only way to disallow clapping One would have to follow Roberts Rules.
Roberts Rules – mandates someone would have to raise a “Point of Order” if it appears the assembly is being disruptive
If a “Point of Order” is called, council would have to stop city business, discuss the incident and resolve the point before business can resume
Unfortunately, “Point of Order” has been ignored at previous council meetings
Specifically during the April 11, Council Meeting – Mr. Weisgerber called “Point of Order” 3 times when Ms. Gross was allowed to speak from the council desk about an issue that was definitely outside of city business. This occurred when Ms Gross accused me of stalking her in the parking lot
- Why was Mr. Weisgerber’s “Point of Order” ignored
- Why has the mayor allowed clapping during parts of the meeting and not all of the meeting
- Why has the mayor stated that anyone speaking from the podium must face the council desk and not engage the audience Question is: Why was the podium even moved?
- How is it that the mayor has asked the LPD to remove attendees from Council Chambers when HE does not have the authority to do so.
- Why did the mayor cut off Mr. Weisgerber at the end of the last council meeting
Allow me to answer these question with a few statement:
We have a council that is dysfunctional, caused by a self serving mayor with predetermined agendas, vindictive actions & a majority who align themselves with the mayor and refuses to engage with and listen to the residents
We have a mayor that chooses to follow the rules when it’s suitable for him, and twist them when he needs to suppress
We have a mayor who has no issue attacking anyone who confronts him
One final point:
I’ve been seriously attending council meetings for the past few of years,
I find it very interesting – that EVERY Open Forum speaker Has disapproved of, or disagree with the mayor and the majority
Not one person has spoken a single word from this podium, approving what the majority has aligned themselves with.
** That speaks volumes **
Oury was prepared to quote from two pages of The Ohio Open Meetings Act (11.A.3 pg 109-110 from the Yellow Book) ref.) and carried copies of the passages with him.