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Talk of Wal-Mart Banned from City Council Meetings

This is very disturbing to me. How can a city coucil which is supposed to represent the public, ban the public from mentioning Wal-Mart or Big Box Stores at city council meetings while a new store proposal is being considered?
What next? Ban forest activists from mentioning trees or endangered species? Ban social activists from mentioning the word homeless? Ban anti-globalization activists from mentioning multi-nationals?
Town shuns Wal-Mart
07/11/2005

YELM, Wash. - The town council barred residents from mentioning Wal-Mart at meetings, prompting a challenge by civil libertarians who said a "free and accountable" government depends on a citizen's ability to voice concerns openly.

The retailing giant has an application pending to build a superstore, spurring controversy in the small town about 15 miles southeast of Olympia.

In a letter to the council, American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Aaron H. Caplan said his group believes it is unconstitutional to ban any mention of Wal-Mart at council meetings. The term "big-box stores" also is banned, as is "moratorium."

The ban began because council members were fed up with complaints about the proposed superstore and related demands for a moratorium on big-box stores, municipal attorney Brent Dille said. He said officials also didn't want to appear biased if the council ever hears appeals in the matter.


ęBeaver County Times Allegheny Times 2005

 link to www.timesonline.com