The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

State, national, world

November 26, 2012

Beaver woman plans to keep eye on town council

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma woman whose charge of disturbing the peace for chastising leaders in Beaver was later dropped said Monday that she won’t stop monitoring the council’s activities.

Linda Fisher, a longtime resident of Beaver, was charged with a misdemeanor for comments she made after a lengthy board meeting in August where wasn’t given the chance to address the town council and Mayor Denise Janko. A municipal judge in Beaver dismissed the charge last week.

“I’m extremely grateful,” Fisher, 57, said Monday. “They don’t want us there, but I’ll be at the next meeting, with my recording device.”

Fisher said she wanted to complain to the council about what she described as reckless spending by the board that represents the small Panhandle community of about 1,500 residents known for its annual cow-chip throwing contest.

“They’re wasting money,” Fisher said. “Somebody is always on a trip for something with this board.”

After waiting out a three-hour executive session by the town’s council, Fisher warned Janko and her supporters on the council to “watch your back” at the next election because Janko was “going down.”

Janko filed a formal complaint with police alleging that she felt threatened by Fisher’s comments. Janko did not return a telephone message Monday seeking comment.

Police issued a citation against Fisher for disturbing the peace. That charge was dismissed by Municipal Court Judge Robert Jaques after the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union became involved in the case.

“Judge Jaques’ decision follows countless rulings from higher courts upholding a citizen’s right to free speech even when that speech is unpleasant or annoying to public officials,” said Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma. “In this case, there was little question that Mrs. Fisher’s comments were a protected exercise of freedom of speech.”

While Henderson is pleased with the judge’s ruling, he said he’s disappointed with the town’s decision to eliminate its longstanding policy of allowing citizens to address the board from its meeting agenda.

“We look at it as bad policy,” Henderson said. “What concerns us isn’t just the mere fact of this being removed from the agenda, it’s the timing of it.

“The concern here is why is something that has traditionally been an open forum suddenly being closed up?”

Town administrator J.C. Moser said the decision to eliminate the public comment portion from the agenda was simply a matter of having a more effective use of the council’s time. He also said the state’s Open Meeting Act doesn’t require it.

“The people of our town who elect our board members, they can talk to our board members at any time about any problem. They’re always willing to listen,” Moser said. “We’re not trying to silence anybody or anything like that, or any faction, and we never have been.”

Fisher, who ran unsuccessfully for town council last year, also was involved in helping to circulate a petition for an investigative audit of the town. Supporters of the audit gathered 131 signatures from registered voters in Beaver, more than the 90 required to force the audit.

State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones said the audit likely will begin early next year and will cost the town between $15,000 and $20,000.

Moser said that’s a “big chunk of change” for a town with an annual operating budget of $1.8 million.

“It’s going to hurt, and our citizens here need to realize that the town is them,” Moser said. “They’re the ones that have to pay the bill, the people that live and work here.”

1
Text Only
State, national, world
  • Diamondback.jpg Watonga prison lays off nearly 100 employees

    The Diamondback Correctional Facility has been vacant since 2010, when the state of Arizona opted not to renew its contract with the prison.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Nepal Everest Avalanc_Hass(1).jpg Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    The Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche hit them at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp where he is monitoring rescue efforts.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sinking ferry web.jpg Transcript shows ferry captain delayed evacuation

    The confirmed death toll from Wednesday’s sinking off southern South Korea was 26, most of bodies found floating in the ocean, the coast guard said. But 48 hours after the sinking the number of deaths was expected to rise sharply with about 270 people missing, many of them high school students on a class trip. Officials said there were 179 survivors.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama mug web.jpg Obama: Defending health law good for some Democrats

    For their part, Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace “Obamacare,” the GOP’s favorite target in most congressional campaigns.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama Ukraine web.jpg Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    Obama did not say what additional sanctions might be in the offing if commitments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva do not materialize.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay Marriage Oklahoma web.jpg Circuit judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    The two cases are the first to reach an appellate court since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Inman web.jpg Oklahoma House Democratic leader Scott Inman: No time for tax cut

    Inman made the comments a little more than two weeks after as many as 25,000 teachers, administrators and students rallied March 31 at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to restore $200 million in public education funding that has been lost in recent years due to budget cuts.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minimum wage web.jpg Some workers are excluded from minimum wage, increased or not

    The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says nearly 1.8 million hourly workers were paid below $7.25 last year — about 2 percent of the 76 million Americans earning hourly wages. An additional 1.5 million earned exactly $7.25.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston Marathon web.jpg Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race on Monday

    Security plans include thousands of uniformed police, hundreds of plainclothes officers and about 100 strategically positioned video cameras that will monitor the crowds. Police also strongly discouraged spectators from bringing backpacks.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Airlines helpful fuel web.jpg Why high oil prices actually are good for airlines

    These changes, along with high oil prices, have created an insurmountable roadblock to startup airlines that hope to undercut established carriers.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads