Silencing the Public

Dear?Editor

The recent changes made by (Bellaire Village Officials) to the way council meetings are conducted is disturbing to me. After reading the article in Saturday’s Times Leader, it made no mention that these changes were voted on by council only that they were adopted by the village. I do not live in the village but my concern is that the village may be overstepping the First Amendment rights of its citizens. Ohio is full of rights such as the Ohio Public Mtg. Act, The Sunshine Laws, etc but to attempt to stop free speech based on content is unconstitutional and has been through the courts in the past (WHITE v. City of Norwalk). It seems to me the Village has every right to some restrictions, length of time, public or private (executive) sessions,etc but to attempt to silence one or more individuals by changing the rules you are opening up Bellaire to Courts and the outcome could be very costly to the citizens. Perhaps the Council should simply follow Roberts Rules Of Order to the letter rather than giving all power to just a few elected public servants. You may want to rethink this new set of rules, by trying to silence someone you may just give him a voice that will be heard across the state.

Russell Lombardi

Bellaire