Bloomington, IL. (ECWd) –
I usually try to stay away from commenting on what others report since I know my writing is not perfect and everyone can use improvement, however, when it comes to complete ignorance and any lack of common sense, I must step in and attempt to correct their failed reporting.
Steve Vogel, an alleged “journalist”, decided to take a stab at the First Amendment like it was a freshly smoked possum waiting to be carved into pieces unrecognizable before being served to the unsuspecting public. This comes immediately after city employee Nora Dukowitz’ failed, embarrassing, and offensive attack on media, which I’m sure Vogel is still in mourning its failure.
I will use his name because he desperately craves the attention, and also in the hopes that some of the remaining readers of his will finally pull the plug and seek out their news elsewhere.
He decided to try and equate the public comments of a Cities 92.9 radio station employee with those of the American Nazi Party, and the “church” that pickets funerals. Although they are all protected speech, there is really no comparison between them, unless you think its fair with equating the Pantagraph to the North Korean Central News Agency or the former East German Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst. After all, all three of them toe(d) the line of those in perceived power without proper questioning.
Vogel’s article is typical of how traditional media has been failing its readership to the point where it is almost nonexistent. The idea of [traditional] media as the “Fourth Estate” – monitoring the government to make sure they don’t abuse the democratic process – has all but disappeared from the today’s media landscape.
So Vogel accuses “Fistbumb”, of “usurping” public comment. He must have forgotten the definition of “usurp”, which is “to take illegally, by force, or to infringe upon someone else’s rights”, which was definitely not the case in that public comment session. He had the right to speak, and he was given the floor by the “mayor”. He infringed on no one’s rights, and took nothing illegally.
Next, Vogel describes public comment rules at other public bodies he if familiar with. He conveniently leaves out the part where their rules violate the Open Meetings Act by restricting the right to speak as opposed to enhancing the right to speak. He talked about Normal’s rules requiring signup 2 hours prior, and McLean County’s rules of 24 hours and 5 days notice – calling it a “request”, like a person must ask permission or something. Both of those scenarios are violations of the Open Meetings Act, but Vogel won’t conduct enough research to let his readers know it. Instead, he simply acts like a cow being led around with a chain tied to its nose ring.
Then, he implied the speaker “imposed” a moment of silence, forgetting that a speaker can impose nothing on his audience. He insinuated that he would have brought the gavel down on the speaker’s silent reflection on the money they have spent, meaning Vogel has no tolerance for the First Amendment unless it conforms to his way of thinking. By the way, silence is a form of speech.
What a waste of space. To claim to be a reporter, and then speak out against the First Amendment rights of those wishing to use the RIGHT to address the PUBLIC OFFICIALS during public comment. Maybe he should report for the [North] Korean News Agency…
Finally, I will end this section with this: At a later meeting, Alderman Diana Hauman left the meeting when Cities 92.9, Brother G, stepped up to the microphone, which, in my opinion, violated the Open Meetings Act and USURPED the right of the speaker to address the public officials during public comment.Why don’t you write on this usurpation Steve?
The OMA does not say they have a right to address only those public officials the choose to stay and listen. It says people have a right to address the public officials – meaning all of them that are attending the meeting. Mayor Renner and the City Council should censure Diana Hauman for leaving the room and violating the people’s rights contained within the Open Meetings Act.
Vogel claims to have talked with Gene Policinski of the Newseum Institute First Amendment Center, which purports to be the “Champion of the First Amendment“. But he didn’t say how that conversation went, only that he talked to him about this subject. I would be interested in how the conversation went so I would know if they were truly “Champions of the First Amendment” or if it was all a smoke-screen and they were only champions of the speech they agreed with.
Steve, did you frame the issue for Gene Policinski? Could you speak to him again about the aftermath of Nora Dukowitz’ embarrassing and offensive attack on free speech through the attempted use of a Restraining Order? Could you tell him Mayor Renner lied again by claiming a felony had occurred and was being investigated when no such thing had happened? No, you probably didn’t and won’t. You simply needed support for your flawed view of free speech, a view of it that applies to you, but not to the people you disagree with.
Steve Vogel, you failed miserably on this one and should apologize to whatever readership you have left, before they leave also. It is offensive for an alleged “reporter” to level such an attack on the First Amendment and Open Meetings rights of citizens. You should be ashamed of yourself for even trying to pass yourself off as a journalist or reporter if this is how you feel. If you have a journalism degree, please burn it and post a picture.
The meeting in question, February 23, 2015, is below, and the public comment in question starts at about the 11:20 mark in the video: