Due to concerns regarding the planned capital expenditure related to the downtown branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, I attended the March meeting of the Library Board of Control and was unceremoniously escorted out of that meeting by an armed deputy sheriff, as if I were not only guilty of being “disrespectful” (something of which I was accused by a board member), but also an apparent danger to public safety.
My offense? Having the temerity to stand up and argue for the First Amendment right of a fellow citizen to ask legitimate questions about how this “public” body spends our tax dollars.
I have practiced law for more than four decades, and while the legal profession has, to say the least, been accused of being uncivilized, I have worked throughout my professional career to follow the rules of civility and to promote professionalism and civility at the local, state and national level. And I can honestly state that in all those years, no judge, opposing attorney, witness or court official in any court, state or federal, has accused me of “disrespect.”
Since that time, I have repeatedly attempted to get an item on the board’s agenda, always following, and, dare I say it, respecting, its own prescribed procedures in doing so, and I have been unsuccessful in this endeavor after four months of attempts.
The tax-paying public might, with sound reason, ask: who is being disrespectful in simply ignoring and stonewalling the legitimate requests of a taxpayer to exercise his First Amendment right to ask questions of this (public!) body pertaining to its Public Comment Policy?