IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG for new mayor Dee Margo to rip a page straight out of Donald Trumps’s playbook and try to muzzle the free speech rights of the very people he now serves.
Our new mayor and 4 council members, having just been sworn into office, just inherited the arena fustercluck and were preparing to hear from many concerned citizens who have given their time, talent and heart to gather over 2,400 signatures in a bid to have the city designate the Duranguito area as historic.
Mayor Margo kicked things off by informing all speakers that rather than speaking the traditional 3 minutes, they would now have to find a way to communicate their statements within 60 SECONDS.
Whether this is the businessman in him or just a factor of his reputation for being somewhat condescending and lacking bedside manner, it managed to catch everyone off guard, including the city council members.
Have you ever tried to take five minutes worth of important commentary and reduce it to three minutes, and then are forced to squeeze your presentation into 60 seconds ON THE FLY?
It can’t be done with any effectiveness and I believe our mayor had this in mind when changing the time limit for speakers.
This crippling move amounts to censorship…not 100% censorship but just enough to compromise a citizens’ ability to make a clear point and petition his representatives.
Mayor Margo seems to have had a momentary lapse in remembering a key provision of his job description –
HE WORKS FOR AND SERVES THE CITIZENS OF EL PASO.
Whether the mayor agrees with their positions or not, it is his and the councils duty to listen to all who have a word to share, a point of view to present, a protest to argue. If it takes three hours every other week to allow every speaker their time to address the council, then so be it.
I’ve sat in on several meetings and watched with admiration as Mayor Leeser listened intently and patiently to many “regulars” who prattled on about nothing in particular, venting on what many observers might consider a waste of time. But they got their three minutes and then some, followed by a courteous “thank you”.
I realize comparing Margo to Leeser is apples and mangos but our mayor needs to recalibrate just how he treats those he serves.
This group of people who have given their all on behalf of our city’s most vulnerable were on the verge of having their free speech rights severely curtailed by an overzealous newbie mayor.
Give them their three minutes along with a smile and a thank you.
It’s the least you can do Mayor Margo.