It’s good to see the protesters at Tuesday’s city council meeting conduct themselves so calmly.
Organizers took great pains to remind everybody that it does their cause no good to be insulting, loud and argumentative and participants showed they agree. Applauding the mayor and supported councillors who arrived at the meeting is much better than yelling at, berating and mocking those you oppose. Passion for your cause is welcome, disrespect for people who have put their names forward to work for their community is not.
The debate over city council’s 2012 budget has become extremely emotional but on Tuesday people showed that this community is mature enough to discuss emotional issues without dissolving into a disgraceful display of belligerent behavior. Some may laugh at the idea but our city council chambers are our public meeting hall and the way we conduct ourselves in that forum reflects on us as a community. We don’t want to see ourselves as an object of mockery on some late night talk show.
As it was, there was still one participant who couldn’t resist muttering “in the good old days we used to be allowed to throw fruit” after taking council up on the extraordinary privilege of being allowed to speak at that time. Be very certain that at no time in the last 100 years or so has it been acceptable to pelt local politicians seated in a democratic meeting hall with rotten fruit. This comment tainted an otherwise well-behaved group.
This issue has already challenged our democratic traditions to an uncomfortable degree. Both the public, our mayor and our councillors will be expected to uphold those democratic obligations. They safeguard our right to free speech and fair treatment.
Be aware, there is a legally-constituted system in place that has rights and responsibilities enshrined in law. The workings of our city hall have a process that is followed. There is enshrined in that process access to public input. Familiarize yourself with that process and make use of it.
Don’t make assumptions.