It should come as no surprise that Ludington Mayor Mark Barnett's administration, still less than a year old, is out to silence the citizen's voices again. Early on he required citizens to provide their full address before speaking during public comment, enforcing a rule that never existed before. As a former police chief, he was well aware that residential addresses were considered personal/private information and would exempt all addresses from police reports ordered by FOIA as routine.
After several meetings of the policy being challenged, the council would eventually pass new rules that would allow citizens to speak and only give out their ward of residence, but not until after the mayor approved new rules that definitely were repugnant to the First Amendment. The latest attempt to quiet portions of the public from expressing their views in a public forum are even more egregious to the First Amendment rights of our town's citizens.
Until October 18th, city hall has done exactly what even the City of Scottville has done, ran a Facebook page that allowed for everyone to respond to their official posts. Most public bodies see the benefit of having two-way communication with the taxpayers, even when there may be some opposing views as to the way things are being ran. On the 18th, they decided to turn off this feature on the LPD's presentation on a proposed canine unit. Why would they choose to do it then?
Of the 18 comments you see were made before the broadcaster applied a setting, you see only one, which turns out to be the only one that isn't totally against this expensive proposal. The other 17 were made by a person named "Okelley Sean" whose comments can only be found by looking at real-time comments and show that he is not a big fan:
And while both sides of the issue deserve to be heard to make an informed decision, the views of Okelley and other folks who did not see the video right away are silenced, and only Linda Waddell's questions appear, along with a video that shows nothing truly critical of the program. To my knowledge and belief, this is the first time in many years that the COL page has suppressed comments of any type.
But now they are doing it regularly; on October 26 they put notice of a reception for Les Johnson on his jumping ship over to the county commission rather than facing the recall election in May 2024 he was going to have. One would expect those who appreciated his service could express their congratulations messages, and two did, but then Rachel Terryn would say it was great news for the city and meh news for the county, and the comments got turned off:
The law is still in question as regards public officials who use their Facebook page for disseminating public information and advocacy for their own position,two cases are coming in front of the Supreme Court dealing with this; however, the law is not in question for public entity pages who do the same.
The government cannot create and maintain a page using government resources to advocate for issues without creating a forum where an individual's viewpoint is discriminated against by either banning them, erasing their comments, or (even worse) closing open discussions once it appears their official position is not widely accepted by the public they are supposedly serving and reaching out to. Ludington leaders need to stop their nonsense immediately.
Not surprised. Did the City think nobody would notice their attempt to stifle information? Censorship is the foundation for a bureaucracy that considers itself the controller of society and not the servant of society. This is one of the main reasons America is falling to the Left. From local bureaucrats and news agencies to national bureaucrats and news agencies we are under a constant threat of loosing our freedom.
To his credit, Mitch Foster had corrected the problem by the end of yesterday. Somehow the settings had been changed and none of the other city's website administrators has taken credit for it. Not buying that this was by accident, because some of the posts since October 18 had comment streams active but others didn't.
Nice mask, and it's not even Halloween.
"Censorship is the foundation for a bureaucracy that considers itself the controller of society and not the servant of society. This is one of the main reasons America is falling to the Left."
Please help me understand this comment, given the fact that the political RIGHT is behind efforts to ban books, gay marriages, abortions, and absentee voting.
Sorry RK. If you don't understand it then there's nothing I can add that will help.
How to teach a Lefty.
Thanks again, X, for an informative, researched and linked article. Without you we may be behind that blue-eyed guys mask too. As more educated people read your posts, I believe progress will continue, because it takes an educated, inquisitive, ethically just mind to keep up with your posts.and that's not vain flattery. Ever since I came from outside and bought into Ludington, I felt the ft. Knox of city hall clamping down on citizen's rights. You are unlocking vault at a time. Whether citizen's, staff and city hall continue to fight you is up to them. If Mitch Foster single-handedly unlocked a FB comment page, I thank him for his boldness again. I just wish he at times wasn't wishy-washy against citizen's rights, taxes, and priorities. Don't forget, MF, what you said about serving the people as being first priority. BARNETT IS still a bully preacher cop. Come on preacher, unloosen the chains.
I hope you are correct about expanded readership, and perhaps an expanded awareness that my goals are to have governments become more accountable, transparent, efficient, frugal, and ethical. I just got through paying for another year of maintaining this open and free website, as I have for the last 15 years, at a total cost of over $3000. I've never subjected my readership to advertisements of any form, I've never asked for money (the donate button in the lower left corner is inactive), and I've never restricted comments that do not agree with me or others in the LT community unless it was an egregious breech of the site's terms of service or spam.
I regularly publish my ideas on this site and welcome others to comment and create their own content, often ruing the fact that we don't have more intelligent people come and argue any counterpoints. I can only hope that the reason is because many of the issues I bring up are hard to argue with and those hypothetical intelligent people looking in are taking notes.