On Tuesday, in the chamber of the Broward county commission, during the public hearing portion of the weekly commission meeting, Commissioner Kristin Jacobs made a statement to the constituents in the audience which, if nothing else, created a greater degree of anger for those in attendance: “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK!”
The issue being discussed was the proposal to require those renting property to report reasons for rejection of the application of potential renters. As Commissioner Dale Holness asserted his (erroneous) belief that all other businesses that take credit applications are required to report reasons for rejection- members of the audience spoke up to point out Holness’ error. Yet as people began to speak up in greater numbers, objecting to Holness’ error, Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, who is currently serving as mayor of the commission, raised her voice and issued her proclamation for silence.
“YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK” – Kristin Jacobs, Broward County Commissioner, September 10th, 2013
While it is sweet that Jacobs quickly jumped to protect her fellow commissioner – and his error – she apparently forgot that holding elected officials accountable is the responsibility of every American citizen. Moreover, it is the constitutionally protected RIGHT of those citizens to make their voices heard. Commissioner Jacobs has made guest appearances on MSNBC, has flown around the world on the taxpayers dime to attend conferences and accept awards on behalf of Broward County, and is hosting a “climate change summit” for the mayors of Broward County’s cities. Her attitude and comments toward the constituents at the Commission seem to indicate that she has started to believe herself a queen, rather than an elected public servant.
Doubtlessly, the argument will be made by some that the commission meetings have rules regarding decorum and procedures, and that sometimes crowds become unruly. That argument fails however when held up to the highest law of our land, which puts NO limits or restrictions on the right of citizens to speak:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances- [italics and emphasis added] – 1st Amendment, The United States Constitution.
Jacobs often states that she’s “been doing this a long time” in reference to her political career. Perhaps it is a little bit too long of a time, since she’s apparently forgotten that she works for the constituents of her district and the citizens of Broward County, not the other way around. Perhaps it’s time that she was reminded of that immutable freedom of speech. If you’d like to go and remind her of your rights, the commission meetings are normally on Tuesdays at 10 am in room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center. If you want to know what’s on the table for discussion, here’s the link: Broward County Commission Meeting- Schedules and Agendas
Remember, you ARE allowed to speak, and make your thoughts heard!