The original packet for the March 13, 2023 meeting of the Ludington City Council indicated that the council would consider passing a resolution creating rules for public comment and some of those rules were pretty harsh, potentially criminalizing normal things that happen at public meetings.  

The agenda that would be available that night moved that consideration further down into the meeting, which indicated to me that someone figured out they may have overreached and/or they wanted to hear from me or other citizens first.  I thought they might, as I sent them an email Sunday night daring them to pass it, which included a link to my article about how it grated on the Constitution.

"Councilors, I double-dog dare you to pass "A resolution establishing a rules of conduct for public comment" set to be considered and adopted by the full council before the first public comment this Monday and shown on p. 21 and 22 of your packets.  If you've looked it over and can't figure out why I offer this dare, I have written an article on it on my blog which has some of the reasons why you shouldn't pass this, but not all.  First Attack: Criminalizing Public Participation at Ludington City ....  
See you tomorrow evening.  Choose wisely."

I fully expected it to be either removed or moved down on the agenda; they did the latter.  When public comment began, council-meeting-veteran Tom Tyron got up to speak, which usually means he saw something on the agenda worthy of his commonsense perspective, as he would not have seen the full packet (it wasn't available until Monday afternoon due to an oversight by one of the new clerk assistants). 

Sure enough, he was critical of the Art Center's (LACA's) request for putting art up along the Cartier Park Trail.  He believed it would be vandalized much like the pawprint identifying signs and placards from prior years.  Several councilors would express their own concerns later on and question whether people going on a nature walk would appreciate the art or find it an annoying interruption of the natural setting.  LACA's Andrew Skinner would still manage to later convince all but one councilor, Ted May, to okay the project.  Ironically, the walkway happens to lie within his ward.  It should be noted that the artwork was approved unseen, councilor's trusting that Skinner wouldn't put controversial au naturel artwork out.

I went next, and by now you might be wondering why I have used the title "Lip-loose" for this meeting.  If you've ever seen the movie "Footloose" (either version), you likely remember the pivotal city council meeting scene where the movie's hero "Ren" gets up during public comment and winds up using the Bible and verses therefrom to woo the religious councilors who have banned dancing to convince them that dancing was a sacred act, sanctioned by the Good Book.  

My presentation might not have gone over as good as his, but his attempt at changing the council's mindset still had them vote against legalizing dancing; my clumsy attempt was ultimately successful in getting them to table the issue for now.  Ren and his young friends would find their own loophole in their movie so they could dance.  I'm sure I or others will find our own loophole if they come back with another attack on free speech in the future, but for this time around I took the same tact Ren did and will forever call this my Lip-loose comment.  You may notice at the start that I mention my Christian name and followed it with city hall's address, fortunately Mayor Barnett remembered my address and asked if I was still living there. 
Great, the mayor has committed my address to memory.

XLFD:  "You should all know what the 1st amendment to the constitution says, you might not know of article 1 section 5 of the Michigan Constitution.  It says:  Every person may freely speak and express their  views on all subjects and no law shall be enacted to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech.

Have you not taken an oath to affirm and defend both Constitutions?  Creating a resolution that criminalizes applause and alternate viewpoints is repugnant to both and as such will not stand.  Fie on this council that would bring back invocations at the beginning of their meeting at the behest of our new Christian mayor and still choose not to observe the wisdom and spiritual guidance asked for by the Almighty.  

For let us not forget the lesson of Esther in the good book, who bravely spoke up for what is right even against an overbearing state.  Esther must save the Jewish people by going before the king and asking him to spare them even though he has not summoned her. It is against the law for her to speak to the king without his permission, but to save her people she decides:  "I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."

We remember Esther for her courage and empathy, we do not remember the king's name or his ministers that made laws to silence the voice and the will of the people.  Neither the documents of our nation's founding, nor the Bible has anything good to say about overbearing tyrants or heavy-handed parliaments.  There's a good reason for that." {END comment]

Daniel Jensen followed at 6:15 in, continued on with a religious theme before going to another level on government corruption, especially at the federal level.  I can grasp what Mr. Jensen was saying, but would a new comment policy allow him to finish his message without the mayor's call to order. 

That policy would be under consideration after the consent agenda was passed.  Councilor Kathy Winczewski started the discussion implying she liked it.  Councilor John Terzano followed and I cannot tell you whether he read my link, but he almost to every point came to the same conclusion.  I was moved to offer a short applause-- hey, it's still within the law.  Councilor Jack Bulger followed by agreeing with Terzano and adding a point or two that I missed.  

With both council attorneys agreeing that it went too far, and with the city attorney nodding his assent to their criticism of his work, the rest of the council fell into place and decided not to take it up but let City Attorney Ross Hammersley have another crack at it.   For those keeping score at home, this is the third meeting in a row where I've sidelined an issue that wasn't ripe for the city to undertake.  

Last meeting's issue was the contract the City was envisioning with Senator Curt VanderWall's Turf Care/Mole Man business.  It came back this meeting with Hammersley writing an opinion that was interesting.  Summarized, he would conclude that there had been a conflict of interest in the contract, but that it wasn't substantial and so the contract was permissible. 

If one was to look at his conclusion and take it back to the 2020 bid, where Turf Care was beat in every category by the low-bidder Tru-Green, one would find that the conflict rose to the substantial level then.  But I have found an interesting wrinkle in this whole affair that shows this 2023 bid was just a sham anyway, thanks to the corrupted entities known as State Representative Curt VanderWall and the City of Ludington.  More on this in a later article; this evening they would approve of Hammersley's opinion without critique and then this contract.

Beyond the walkway and fertilizer, the rest of the meeting was more informational and routine.  A public hearing was set for the next regular meeting in two weeks to approve an OPRA application (the task which was postponed two meetings ago due to its lack of timeliness.  An ordinance changing their copy/printing services contract (the current contractor's bid was higher and they had performance issues) had first reading.  

They heard fairly positive 2022 annual reports from three departments: the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Cartier Park Campgrounds, and the Senior Center.  Budget amendments for 2022 were reported and approved (these are in the packets, nothing too surprising).  

Sarah Genson was confirmed as an appointment for the Tree Advisory Board, as was Robert Rapacki for the Cable Advisory Board.  The Lakestride 1/2 marathon day activities were approved, it will be held fairly early this year on June 9th.  

City Manager Foster would report that they would be seeking Sparks grants for potentially EV charging stations, solar panels, and mitigating a closed sludge pond.  Hammersley reported he would be absent next meeting.  

Second public comment had Chuck Sobanski mention a Sixth Ward problem, namely that the stop signs and gates around Foster School were still there (it was a fair point, a few meetings ago a TCO was created to take the stop signs down and it was announced the gate was slated for removal).  Annette Quillan, as a Senior Center volunteer announced their own Suds for Seniors event coming up.

As for me, I remained quiet during that period, having prepared a comment on the slim chance that they would have passed the onerous public comment rules.  I may yet need to utter these words in the future if they have not learned enough from this interlude about their status as public servants, and the public's status as their masters.  And while I've been known to sometimes massacre a tune in order to convey a point, my comment would not have involved any singing in order to point out the similarity of one town outlawing dancing and what our town was on the precipice of doing:

"You're playing so cool, Obeying every rule Dig way down in your heart, You're burning, yearning for some
Somebody to tell you, That life ain't passing you by I'm trying to tell you, It will if you don't even try
You can speak if you'd only cut loose, lip-loose..."

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Congratulations X for helping to curb another move by the Left to steal our rights. What bothers me is that they are still considering some more rules to squash free speech. No citizen, no matter where they reside should be forced to publicly state their personal information, not even their name in order to stand up and openly verbalize their concerns, ideas, complaints or any other subject that involves them or their fellow citizens. What's the matter with this core group of shameless citizens who think they are the overlords of Ludington. This subject should never have gotten passed the committee stage of the ordinance process let alone reached Council Chamber if these Counselors really cared about the Constitution and what it represents. This should be a wake up call to every voter.

One of the dirty little secrets behind this action was that it never went through the committee stage, according to Mitch Foster, and the committee meeting notes support that claim.  Either Mitch, who figured out that there were no set rules for public comment and/or Mayor Barnett, who wants not only to know our residential address but take away our rights to speak and clap at meetings, directed our high-priced attorney to draft this garbage.  Now they're going to have him redraft it rather than simply copy and paste some other city's tested rules, because they need to have your house number to show their dominance over you.  

My name isn't legally XLFD, and few people here use their legal name, especially our regular contributors.  I could also care less about knowing your address before you post your thoughts here.  What matters is those thoughts, and 99% of the time, your name and address has nothing to do with whether it is hot or not.  

I think it was Councilor Moonbeam who actually came up with my earlier idea for identifying yourself.  Rather than give your address, declare which ward you live in.  Thus, your ward's councilor will be more apt to respond to the comment later, whether there's a question or not.  You also don't have to be as worried that the neighborhood psycho you triggered after he watched the meeting's video, is going to pay you a visit.


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