Statement Regarding Upcoming Vote on “Free Speech Amendment”
For Immediate Release 10/12/2018
Wildwood, MO- On October 22nd, the Wildwood City Council will have a second reading and an anticipated final vote on legislation that would allow residents to ask questions of their elected officials during the public participation section of council meetings. The so-called “Free Speech Amendment” had to overcome unusual hurdles to even be placed on the agenda for first reading.
In a surprise move during the October 8th Council meeting, Wildwood City Mayor, Jim Bowlin announced that after meeting with the bill’s author Ward Four Councilman Steve Taylor, that he would be instituting the main provisions of the legislation, including the allowing of residents to ask questions during the public comment period.
The following is a statement by Council Member Steve Taylor regarding the status of the “Free Speech Amendment,”
“The ‘Free Speech Amendment’, which would guarantee the ability of residents to ask questions of their elected officials and roll back rules instituted by the Mayor prohibiting such speech has been debated in committee and by the council for months. I appreciate the civility that has prevailed during the discussions of the legislation. Moreover, the willingness of the council to unanimously vote to put the legislation forward for debate in the face of the unusual roadblocks placed by an administration initially resistant to the bill speaks to the integrity of my colleagues on the council.
“As arguments against the ‘Free Speech Amendment’ have successively fallen to the wayside, the Mayor has now decided to ‘implement’ the ‘gist’ of the bill prior to the final vote on the legislation. While I applaud the Mayor’s willingness to finally allow residents to question the council directly, I remain concerned that the Mayor is still opposed to passing the 'Free Speech Amendment'.
“Until it is put into our municipal code, the ability to ask questions will be tentative and subject to the whim of the Mayor, who originally withdrew the ability in the first place. After coming so far, we should not leave this gain for residents to the prerogative of the Mayor, but we should secure it as a city ordinance.
“As the legislation heads into its second reading, I am cautiously optimistic that it will have the support to become an ordinance. If the mayor had any real concerns about its legality, he would not have instituted the ‘gist’ of the legislation prior to its passage. Any remaining arguments against the bill are unfounded, pedantic handwringing as to whether the council or the Mayor has the jurisdiction to change such rules. Regarding such concerns, the city attorney has repeatedly stated that the bill is legal and enforceable.
“After months of debate it is time to secure the right for residents to address their representatives. It is time to finally pass the ‘Free Speech Amendment.”