The Union Recorder


June 25, 2014

STINSON: The First Amendment does not shield you from repercussions

MILLEDGEVILLE — Amendment 1 to the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to free speech. However, this guarantee does not mean that a citizen can say anything that he or she wishes to say without repercussions. In other words, the right to free speech is not absolute. As such, a citizen has to be prepared to accept, or suffer the consequences of that speech.

According to a letter written by Mr. Barry Jarrett to the Union Recorder, there was a “called work session of the mayor and city council.” It is not clear who called this meeting and under what legal authority. Also, the transcript and recording of the meeting on The Union-Recorder website did not indicate whether the mayor was present in this meeting. I did not hear the mayor’s voice on the recording, nor did I see his name appear in the transcript. Was the mayor present? If he was present, why did he not participate in this “work session” with the others that were present? Did the mayor know that councilman Walter Reynolds was secretly recording this meeting? In other words, what did the mayor know and when did he know it?

What should be the consequences for those that participated in this “work session?” The mayor has now called for Mr. Jarrett’s removal. Fortunately or unfortunately, Mr. Jarrett was just carrying out the wishes of the individuals that hired him (mayor and city council). Now the mayor wants to kick him to the curb. What happened to Mr. Jarrett’s right to free speech?

My question is should not the mayor, and all others involved in this charade be held accountable? Maybe this question can be answered by the State Attorney General, or some other oversight body after a thorough investigation.

While Mr. Chat Daniel is a private citizen, he is also the president of Century Bank and Trust Company, and as such, has a fiduciary obligation and duty to the shareholders and depositors of that bank to act with due care. In my opinion, making questionable remarks about individuals who can negatively impact the banks bottom line was irresponsible and not a wise business decision. As the saying goes, never bite the hand that feeds you.

What we are witnessing today in Milledgeville is the result of what happens when citizens become apathetic and don’t vote. This allows elected officials, who keep getting elected year after year without little or no opposition, to feel that they can do what they want when they want.

Erogers Stinson

Alexandria, Va.

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