To the Editor:
Our First Amendment delineates several freedoms as well as protecting Free Speech and the right to peaceful assembly. I join my fellow Warwick City Council members in affirming the rights of those who disagree with the Car Tax to make themselves heard. However, I take exception to not only the gross misrepresentation of facts but also the personal attacks, harassment and bullying tactics that have been displayed lately.
There is a fine line between protected speech and unprotected conduct. Rob Cote’s flyer contains inflammatory language and misinformation with photographs of six Council members, our home addresses and phone numbers. This call to action jeopardizes the elected officials as well as our families. Yes, this information is accessible on the City website. However, where is the potential cooling-off period when a provoked bystander is challenged with “So what are you going to do about it?” on a handbill with pictures and contact information at his/her immediate disposal?
A stack of these flyers was stapled to the utility pole directly in front of my house. An aggressive driver displaying a Car Tax Rally sign in the back of his open truck badgered and tailgated my son as he was driving home from work. I have received insulting emails disclosing personal information about my colleagues ad nausea and crank calls in the middle of the night. These same handouts were stuffed in bags at local stores or stuck under the wipers of parked cars. In a last ditch effort of intimidation, Rob Cote threatened to publish a photo of me holding a sign in support of Collective Bargaining Agreements. A picture I originally published on my FaceBook page and a principle I publicly endorse.
What does any of this have to do with the real issue of dissatisfaction with the car tax valuations and exemption? Not one blessed thing. State the facts and let them stand on their own merit. As an elected council person, I encourage people to contact their elected officials if they are displeased with how we vote and to participate in the democratic process not socio-political terrorism.
The future of our city depends on the cool heads of strong, positive leaders.
And above all, letting your elected officials know what is important to the citizens of our city.
Warwick City Council/Ward 3