Letter: Council policy should apply to written letters, too

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 28, 2020

I was surprised and disappointed two weeks ago to hear hate-filled letters read on air at our City Council meeting. Letters that denigrate anyone should not be tolerated in our City Council. There is a policy stating that public comment must not attack any member of council, and allowing such tears at the foundations of our local government. Each member of council has been duly elected and deserves our respect. I can tell you from experience that public service is not for sissies. 

I have heard that one or two council members disagree with barring language of attack. For them, I have six words: Next time, it could be you.

I sent the following letter today to the city manager and city attorney with copies to every member of Council, and I’d like to share it in this venue: 

I was surprised and disappointed at our last council meeting to hear hate-filled letters read verbatim on live air.

If things have not changed since I left council, the policy for public comment states that no one will attack members of council. This should apply to letters used as public comment as well as in-person remarks.

I would like to respectfully suggest a change in protocol. If a letter is insulting to any council member, the city clerk would recognize the letter from named citizen, state that the letter does not conform to (state the proper policy) and will not be read, but the sender is on record as in support or not in support of the given action.

Reading insults does a disservice to us all. It puts the city clerk in an untenable position. It also encourages other “haters” to follow suit.

Please consider this change in how such letters are handled. 

I appreciate how hard all of your jobs are during this trying time, and I thank you for considering my request.

— Maggie Blackwell

Salisbury

Editor’s note: Maggie Blackwell served on the Salisbury City Council from 2009 to 2017.

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