DANVILLE, IL. (ECWd) -
During the April 6, 2021, Danville, Illinois City Council Meeting, Mayor Rickey Williams, Jr., started public comment by lying about Christopher Hansen, the person who submitted a public comment to be read at the meeting.
Danville's unreasonable public comment rule of submitting your public comment in writing by 4:30 p.m. the day of the meeting showed its underlying purpose at this meeting - and that purpose is obviously to research the person commenting, and to research the comment so as to provide unwarranted feedback during its reading (partial reading this time).
This is insulting to the commenter, and insulting to the public listening.
Additionally, deciding that some of it was "chargeable" is not a decision of the Mayor's - the public has a right to comment, and if need be, they have a right to their opinion (however right or wrong it may be), they a have a right to address public officials, and it is not up to those public officials to decide certain (content based) comments cannot be heard - it is ultimately a decision left up to the Courts. The City of Urbana is about to realize that part in Circuit Court.
We have submitted a FOIA request to the City of Danville for a copy of Hansen's written public comment and will publish it in its entirety in a follow-up article.
What we believe Mayor Rickey Williams did wrong:
- Lied about the commenter - Hansen has not submitted thousands and thousands of FOIA requests to the City of Urbana
- Stripped the First Amendment Right of Hansen to speak
- Stripped Hansen's right under the Open Meetings Act to address public officials at an open meeting
- Stripped the First Amendment Rights of every person who attended the meeting, and the right of every person who will watch the video in perpetuity, to hear what Hansen had to say
Mayor Williams owes the commenter and the public a written and verbal public apology, and he should read the letter and his apology in its entirety at the next council meeting.
Finally, the Attorney General issued a Binding Opinion against the City of Danville last fall for their violations of the Freedom of Information Act by improperly denying my request for public records.
Watch this disgusting display from Mayor Williams below: