We received a series of e-mail exchanges. Because Arlene Fried CC a reporter on her correspondence we obtained the permission of Mr. Siggelkow to published this exchange.
A little background:
Ms. Fried became upset at some comments made by well known liberal blogger Tommy (two putt) Johnson during the open comment time at a July 15th MPRB meeting. Tommy’s comments can be read in another post on this blog as well as his blog Mn. Campaign report at http://www.mncampaignreport.com
Fried sent the following to Don Siggelkow as well as every sitting member on the board and at least one reporter:
“My written remarks which I read:
On July 15, 2009, a resident of Eden Prairie who is a supporter of the Crown Hydro project came to the MPRB's Open Time to discredit the presentation I had made on June 17.
He disputed the statements I made regarding FERC's license preempting local control of historic preservation issues and FERC's having the authority to let the Falls run dry in order to produce energy.
Because his attack on my credibility was televised and heard by those who were watching the meeting, I am writing this to point out that Tommy Johnson was mistaken. What Tommy Johnson did not know was that my source for the statements he challenged was a letter written on March 1, 2009, to Senator Higgins and Representative Campion by Rick Solum, a retired partner of the law firm of Dorsey and Whitney and a former Hennepin County District Judge; and, furthermore, Rick Solum's letter was based on an opinion by the city attorney. My sources are highly credible.
For the record, I am attaching a copy of the letter from Rick Solum on which my statements were based. Please place this letter in the minutes of this meeting.
Don Siggelkow sent this in response to Fried’s request:
You requested at open time last night that the Board minutes from July 15th be amended. As you know, minutes are approved by the Board and any amendment to minutes that were already approved would require a Board action. I will be including your letter in the September 16th meeting agenda in petitions and communications and it will be part of the public record for that meeting.
As a side note, I think it is a major break through that you understand that making false statements during open time is blatantly wrong and discrediting individuals during open time that cannot respond to the false statements is inappropriate. I will suggest to our Standards and Conduct Chair that we consider amending the rules to prohibit the use of open time comments to discredit and disparage individuals and that information provided must be backed up by fact, not opinion. Some would view this restriction as impeding freedom of speech, but it sounds as though you and I agree that making false statements and damaging reputations are an abuse of the open time purpose. Now if we can just get the blogs to abide by those same guidelines, we would really be making progress in civility and respect in our community!
Thank you for your input!
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board"
From: Arlene Fried [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 09, 2009 8:41 PM
To: Siggelkow, Don
Subject: Beware of Amending the Rules Regarding Free Speech
In regard to your September 3 e-mail to me, it is apparent that you misunderstood my September 2, 2009, Open Time request.
I was not asking to amend the July 15 minutes. I was asking that my written remarks and Judge Rick Solum's letter, which I handed to both Tom and Mike (to give to you), be included in the official record of the September 2 MPRB meeting.
My directions were clearly stated in my written remarks. They are as follows: "For the record I am attaching a copy of the letter from Rick Solum on which my statements were based. Please place this letter in the minutes of this meeting."
(I am including after my signature the full text of the remarks that I read and submitted last Wednesday.)
As for your suggestion that the Park Board censor citizens who wish to express opinions about their government, I believe that it would be unwise and unconstitutional for the Park Board to amend the rules for the purpose of limiting free speech; and doing so could be very embarrassing for the Park Board.
Therefore, I hope that you will rethink suggesting to the Chair of Standards and Conduct that the committee amend the rules.
(the bold is highlighted by Fried)
“Please place this letter in the minutes of this meeting” was your request that was highlighted in green and submitted during the meeting. I must be taking your request literally to mean that you wanted that letter placed in the minutes of the meeting. There are balances to free speech such as slander and libel that protect private individuals and public officials. Are you suggesting that the Board allow slanderous and libelous comments to be made against public officials or private individuals during open time? I have heard second hand that a former elected official had suggested to you that your remarks about some public officials were slanderous – so I am just trying to verify your opinion on how far your beliefs on freedom of speech go in regards to expressing freedom of speech. I intend to move the concept forward to Standards and Conduct that the Board prohibit slanderous or libelous comments against private individuals or public officials during open time. Do you oppose that position?"
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board