• Lines are not blurred
    October 29,2013
     

    Lines are not blurred

    Brad Watson might want to consider lowering the temperature of his rhetoric after referring to critics of Mayor John Hollar and City Manager William Fraser as “cowardly.”

    Both the mayor and the city manager have served this community well, but the issues raised by Planning Director Gwendolyn Hallsmith’s outside political activities are important and it serves no one’s interests to dismiss critics of the way City Hall has handled this incident as cowards.

    First of all, the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly established the basic First Amendment right of public employees such as Ms. Hallsmith to engage in outside political activities. Mr. Watson would do well to educate himself about that right.

    Second, based on a series of e-mails I exchanged with the city manager on Friday, it seems clear the city has no written policy addressing the issue of outside political activity by its employees.

    There has been no suggestion in either the articles that appeared in this paper or in my correspondence with the city manager that Ms. Hallsmith used public resources or public time in pursuing her outside activities or identified herself as speaking for the city itself.

    Since the city council has never (to the best of my knowledge) taken a position on public banking, it’s very hard to see how Ms. Hallsmith’s constitutionallyprotected outside activities have blurred a line or undermined the city’s interests in any way.

    Phil Keller

    Montpelier

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