Yesterday the City of Charlestown, under the leadership of Mayor Bob Hall, publicly shamed ten citizens on the city’s official Facebook page which has over 2,500 followers.
What should have been a simple announcement about the status of the Petition for Rehearing filed in the Court of Appeals in January by NOW, Inc, became an abuse of power with extreme politicization in an official city message.
This announcement is problematic for a number of reasons. In addition to being factually inaccurate, the announcement suggests more than what was stated in the court order and implies that the court issued some kind of affirmation of the city’s claims of judicial abuse.
First, of the ten names listed in the post, only ONE is currently a member of NOW, Inc. In fact, of the ten names listed in the post, only THREE have ever been members of NOW, Inc. No good or ethical reason exists to list these names. This action represents a juvenile, knee-jerk decision making process that should alarm us all. Who will want to disagree with the city’s leadership if doing so gets you publicly shamed? Who will hear our redresses if not our elected officials? How can we attract new families and investors if our city is known to attack citizens like this?
Citizens have a right to petition the court for redress and to challenge their leaders when those leaders do not act in the citizens’ best interests. Both our state and federal constitutions guarantee this right.
Power in government is constitutionally granted to the PEOPLE.
Equally as damaging as shaming citizens this way is the spin placed on the wording of the announcement. The court did not “reaffirm” anything. The court did not issue a statement that said the opposition to the sale of the utility “is about delay, politics, and driving up the cost” as Mayor Bob Hall claims. The court said:
That’s it. The court denied the petition for rehearing on matters of the law. If Mayor Bob Hall has official documentation from the court that does otherwise then let him produce it. And let him keep his political stunts to his campaign page less he paint the entire city with the same shameful brush.
The City of Charlestown should edit or remove this post to reflect a more ethical, fair, and non-political announcement. The City should also issue a public apology to all ten people named in the post. To do less sets a standard for our future that is quite alarming.
Under my leadership you will never be shamed for expressing your opinion.
Under my leadership you will be given access to complete and factual information.
Under my leadership you will see what it truly means to put Charlestown First.
READ both the Petition for Rehearing and the Order Denying the Petition HERE: Recent Water Sale Court Documents