By Scott Tibbs, March 18th, 2004
Is Scott Wells being persecuted again?
Well, apparently we have another dust-up involving Scott Wells, the Messiah of the Green Left. Wells was ejected by law enforcement from the March 16th Planning Commission meeting for unruly behavior. I have heard a lot of people talking about it, but I haven't seen the meeting nor have I read a newspaper report on it, so I can't offer a whole lot in the way of factual information at this time.
However, I do have a few general comments about the situation involving The Messiah... I mean Mr. Wells. Apparently, he intentionally spoke significantly longer than the time limit for speakers from the public. As an elected official, Mr. Wells represents all people in Monroe County and has an obligation to the people of Monroe County to conduct himself in a civil manner at public meetings.
Being an elected official does not (and should not) give Mr. Wells the right to ignore time limits placed on the general public. In a Plan Commission, City Council, or County Commissioners meeting, Mr. Wells is a member of the public and should abide by the same rules and regulations that all other citizens must abide by. These time limits were placed there for a reason. That reason is to keep the meeting moving while allowing the public to have their say on a given issue. While I am a strong supporter of a public comment period (and such a period is required by Indiana law), I have no objection to reasonable limits on time for individual speakers. I think three minutes is a reasonable time.
Some have attacked acting Plan Commission president John Newlin for having Mr. Wells removed. I do not believe that Mr. Newlin would have Mr. Wells removed without good cause. Again, I haven't seen the tape nor have I read a newspaper report on the incident, but I know Mr. Newlin, and he is a good man. This is not about "silencing" Mr. Wells for expressing disagreement with the party in power. Mr. Wells, or anyone else, is free to say what he wishes without fear of being "silenced". He cannot, however, ignore the rules of a meeting.
One of the complaints surrounding local government meetings (especially City Council meetings) is that those meetings can go late into the night. That is one reason why the length of commentary (not only with the public, but also with people sitting on elected bodies or on commissions) should be limited. The public should be able to attend a government meeting without fear that they will have to either leave in the middle of it or sacrifice sleep.
I respect that Mr. Wells, like myself, passionately stands for what he believes in. However, he does have to abide by established rules of order.