Monday, March 10, 2008

Councilman Riggs Defends First Amendment in Pasadena

Newly elected mayor Johnny Isbell is making it illegal to speak about political campaigns at the Pasadena Texas city council meetings. Most of the council is going along with this.
Gil Guerra, a political science major student at the University of St. Thomas, stood at the podium and said he believes that if a person is a resident of Pasadena and is paying taxes, he or she has the right to speak before the council, even when they are running for an office “as long as they are not being vulgar.”

“I urge this council to vote against this ordinance that limits the freedom of speech of your constituents,” Guerra said.

Jerri Neely, a former councilwoman and a former mayoral candidate who appeared before the council during the last campaign term to speak on non-campaign related matters, said people should be able to speak as long as they are relevant and respectful.

Councilwoman Dana Philibert said because Channel 16 is a municipal channel, it is important that the information provided through the channel is related to the city matters. If the city allows a candidate to speak at the council meeting, it is required to give a chance to all other candidates to do the same, the councilwoman said. She voted in favor of the ordinance.

“Who is going to define ‘make statements concerning political campaigns’?” Councilman Ralph Riggs asked.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution allows “the public to protest or complain or voice their opinion,” but the council is taking that away, Riggs said.

“This ordinance will result in consequences that are not even thought up if allowed to be passed,” he said.

All the amendment aims at is “to take this council meeting to another level,” Councilman J.J. Isbell said.

He said people do not need to campaign either from the councilmembers’ table or the podium.
I used to live in Pasadena but I am getting glad I left as it is now going back to its old KKK days.

A slim majority of the people voted for Isbell despite questions of his understanding of the law and his flip-flopping on political philosphies.

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