Last month, a New Brighton commissioner wrote a letter to the editor of the New Brighton Bulletin questioning the motives of the former city council to change elections from odd years to even years.
On Tuesday, the commissioner lost his volunteer position because of that letter. The council voted 3-2 to remove Ben Jones from the planning commission.
Council members and city staff said Jones’ letter was insulting and misleading. Jones thought that was an unfair assessment.
“I’m disappointed,” Jones said of his removal. “I think it shows a little bit of pettiness in the council majority and a little bit of an unhealthy attitude toward the role of the commission and toward dissent in the city.”
I don't know Ben Jones, but I question the motives of the city council, too. Can't do that, apparently. City Manager Dean Lotter explains:
“Venues in which public meetings are conducted should be a sanctuary for free thought and decorum. That’s integral to achieving that dialogue or that goal,” City Manager Dean Lotter said in a recent meeting. “In order to achieve that decorum, commissioners give up some of their rights, like penning editorials. It’s just how it is.”
So you are free to think whatever you want, but you'd better not express your thoughts, according to Der Kommissar Manager Lotter. Meanwhile, the ever-excitable Red Queen mayor of New Brighton, Val Johnson, gives the game away:
“He has insulted me. He has insulted this council. And I don’t know if I could ever trust him again as a commissioner,” Johnson said at a recent meeting. “And when I lose that trust in people that we appoint, then there’s something that needs to be done.”
Lest I offend Dear Leader Mayor Johnson's delicate sensibilities, let's get something straight. You wanted to be mayor. You ran for mayor. You are the mayor. In an open society, your decisions, your behavior, your general comportment, all of it -- are fair game for criticism, even open ridicule. No wonder you don't want to face the voters until 2020.