‘Letter to the Editor’ from Brigantine resident, Anne H. Phillips: Why did Brigantine’s Mayor Guenther impose his own gag rule (any action or order preventing freedom of speech) on me at the 2/15/17 City Council meeting?
The Mayor presides at all City Council meetings. With skill and adherence to professional standards of courtesy, civility and order can be maintained between elected officials and the public. Without these qualities on the part of the chairman, partisan bias and personal animus might dominant the encounter. And that’s what they did at the 2/15/17 Council meeting.
COUNCIL MEETING GAG ORDER. A blatant misuse of police power by the Mayor of Brigantine, Phil Guenther.
I spoke in public comment on the issue of public disclosure of union/City contracts after negotiations are complete and before Council votes on them. Such a procedure enables the public to read them before the meeting and comment on them during the meeting. There wasn’t any on-topic response by Council to my statement.
However, during a subsequent period for Council comment, the Ward 3 member did read remarks allegedly on this topic, using my name several times while addressing me specifically. I attempted to rebut his comments which he had avoided making immediately after I had spoken in public comment.
Suddenly, on my left, there stood the police chief in response to the Mayor’s signal. He looked directly at me. I got the message. Sit down or out you go.
The police chief attends all Council meetings as part of the administration. If there were ever an actual physical threat to Council he or any other police officer would be available to handle such a situation. Obviously, there was no threat.
The Mayor of Brigantine, Phil Guenther, achieved his objective of silencing further discussion of an important issue affecting taxpayers and having to defend his and the City’s position keeping the public in the dark about all the details in the union contracts.
A Brigantine police department exists to keep people safe and to enforce the law impartially.
The governing body should support the police officers, not misuse them, as they fulfill their legal duties.
Anne H. Phillips