Written Statement submitted to Council by Mr. John Higgins
Written statement to the Council meeting by Mr. John Higgins in response to a written statement presented by Michael Shulman at the May Council meeting.
June 6, 2006
To: Section 5 Council
From: John Higgins, Jr.
I am presenting this written statement to the Council in response to a written statement made by Michael Shulman at the last Council meeting. Although the statement is signed only by Michael, I do note that he was accompanied by Michael Eig and Bill Hamilton at the meeting.
There are a number of matters in Michael Shulman's statement with which I do not agree, but I do not think it at all appropriate to use this forum to express those disagreements. I readily acknowledge that I strongly disagree with the position taken by Michael and the three families that have opposed the Duffys. They are relentless in their opposition to the Duffys, an opposition that I consider quite unneighborly. Nonetheless, I cannot disagree with their legal right to speak out.
That right to speak is a right we all share and it is in connection with that right that I ask to have this statement included in the record of tonight's meeting. I was on this Council for 17 years and at no time was it ever suggested that my Council membership limited my right as a resident to speak out on matters of local interest. Michael says that "if a Council Member who feels compelled to speak out on this kind of dispute and is so zealous in asserting their First Amendment rights, they should resign." I could not disagree more. At no time to my knowledge has any Council Member used his or her office to weigh in on the dispute involved. Neighbors, who happen to be Council Members, have every right to speak out and should not be threatened with a recall effort because they do.
The dispute involved here has been divisive enough for our town. I don't know where it will end but I certainly hope that we will hear no more about limiting the rights of neighbors, whether they be Council Members or not, to speak their minds in their capacities as residents.