To the Editor:
In view of the Sept. 22 editorial titled "Civil discourse, please," I feel compelled to offer commentary to what I feel was inappropriately or erroneously perpetuated in parts of this editorial.
The organizers and supporters of the car tax revolt movement have patiently waited and planned in excess of 2 months, to go through the procedural process to obtain the one goal that has been the driving force since day one. That goal was to have the mayor and his staff come before the people to field questions and offer logical explanations that can be substantiated with fact. Commonly referred to as an open public hearing.
To this date that has not happened due to obstacles that can only be viewed as semantics and stalling. Remember that appearance is everything. On three occasions hundreds of people have crowded into city hall to finally be part of the fiscal business of the city and the result is that they are shut down, not heard, imposed time limits upon them, recessed, and witnessed the leaders of the city walk out of a meeting. Being directed to making comments only and not allowing questions to be asked, due to words that were missing or omitted from a resolution, is incendiary enough in any atmosphere, much less one filled with people that have waited for weeks to pose questions.
These are details that will be worked out in the future but as typical in this city, no one from the administration realizes the concept of unintended consequences. The fact of the matter is that when people detect that they are being sequestered in any form, they react. As patient as all of the followers may have been, there is a limit to the amount of nonsense and what has the appearance of theatrics, that anyone can take, and that goes for myself as well.
In paragraph ten of the above mentioned article, the writer states that "Cote has lead people to believe that they will gain tax relief this year." This statement not only is false as no reference to this has ever been made, but in my opinion is unfair and is a complete distortion of both the truth and of the message.
Next, the statement "the nature of Cote and his followers attacks" is an extremely poor choice of words from such an accomplished journalist. To hold an organizer solely responsible for the reactions and statements of hundreds of people, most of which the organizer does not know and has never met is an outrageous comment, and should be retracted. Several comments were made that evening as well from the administration, one which was overheard when a member of the mayors staff commented "let’s repeal the car tax and bang them on the property tax, see how they like that".
Is the mayor responsible for that comment? Of course not. However, the actions of not speaking when spoken to and to leaving a meeting where you are wanted and needed, proliferates anger and frustration. Let us all hope that the mistakes made on both sides of this event are in the past and that we can find the common ground of discussion.
To refresh the writers memory, on Sept.12th the "organizer" thanked the council for "extending the hand of friendship" and asked all participants to be courteous and respectful to all council members as we go through the procedures. Clearly not the modis operandus of "thugs." On Sept.19th, the organizer was thanked by council president Place for his previous kind words and the courtesy of "his followers."
In all fairness to the administration we do congratulate them for their decision to send a resolution to the General Assembly, however, an engaged individual would ponder if this statement to the general assembly would have been made had it not been for the pressures exerted by the car tax revolt. With the issue of the removal of the exemption hanging in the wind for more than a year, what was the catalyst that made them step up and act.
To address name calling, four letter words, and the interruptions. The actions, although contrary to Roberts Rules of Order, was an emotional response from a number of people who felt as though they were being stonewalled. When so many diverse people have the same immediate reaction, and perceive the same intent, it is reasonable to assume that some outside cause of action precipitated the outburst. The vast majority of people in attendance share the same feeling.
Finally, as an example of poor choosing of words that can only fuel the fire of frustrated people. To make the segue from frustrated people to the following, "This is not to suggest that local emotions could become so heated as that someone could resort to violence, as happened in the Giffords case" is a pure distortion, irresponsible, and detracts from the point of an article that was well written up to paragraph ten. This type of comment detracts from the message that this organization is trying to bring forth. Bear in mind our entire premise was to obtain a venue for the sole purpose of civil discourse, please!
"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold, is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Thomas Jefferson
"There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions." Charles P. Steinmetz