Mud on a councilman's face

Gadflies are gripers who cry at most meetings because it’s their legal right. Most gadflies, although annoying, are harmless.

At times, councilmen and women swat them and attack them on their face; but at others, they buckle and attack the face that speaks. Sadly, in our Jewel City, this breed of council member exists.

Public office is no place for the thin-skinned. The United States Supreme Court expressed “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide open, and that such debate may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasant sharp attacks on government and public officials” (Pittsburg Unified School District v. California School Employees Assn.).

Case law has proven that the 1st Amendment gives a private citizen the right to criticize public officials. In fact, a public official's retaliation against an individual exercising his or her First Amendment right is a federal violation. It seems apparent that a city councilman recently violated this federal statute. Pompously, at a recent city meeting, this same council member publicly announced trite accounts of antiquated misdemeanors — which by today’s standards, would probably be thrown out in a court of law — which appeared in a public speaker’s past. Nevertheless, the real crime lies not with the speaker, but with the act of the council member.

The values underlying our 1st Amendment protect us from retaliation “by those equipped with a greater institutional power,” according to the Ohio State Law Journal. Without such protection, no one would ever speak. Leadership that refutes this is something to be feared.

When John Drayman, incumbent on the council, dished a little dirt (“Mohill was the one who started this mess,” March 20), it only left mud on his face.

Maria Smart

La Crescenta

A question on corporate taxes

Reading Gary Huerta's April 5 column “Taxes, tax breaks and the American way” caused me to get behind the computer and write.

I am not against taxes, but I'd like to know why big corporations such as General Electric, Wal-Mart, oil companies and banks who make billions in profits pay no federal taxes or get huge refunds (according to the media), and yet we “little people” should pay taxes to balance the budget?

Hope someone has a good answer.

Catherine Yesayan


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