Guest editorial: Park City Council must accept criticism
Recently, Mayor Andy Beerman abruptly cut off Angela Moschetta’s public comments criticizing the City’s process concerning the Main St. murals, accusing her of engaging in a “personal attack.” Ms. Moschetta’s remarks were targeted at what she perceived as a deeply flawed process and her anger at certain City Councilors’ comments demeaning of public criticism of the Council’s process behind the murals.
Here is a transcript of her remarks slightly shortened for space but the deletions were neutral.
Angela Moschetta: “I have to tell you, I have never been more deeply offended. I would even use the words ‘disappointed’ and ‘disgusted’ with what I am hearing… I will not be silenced going forward despite the fact that counselor Max Doilney and others would like to continue calling me or other people who are speaking out on Facebook ‘conspiracy theorists.’ You have used the word ‘haters’ at City Council, Max, multiple times. I think there is a complete lack of humility that has been regularly on display and is preventing some of you from coming to the kind of understanding that would not just benefit you, as individuals, but would benefit this community. Dialogue that you have an obligation to hold in an honest, transparent, ethical, and truly supportive way out of obligation for all the people whether they voted for you or not.
[T]he artist Aljay (Fuimaono) does not identify as black… He is a Pacific Islander. He is not black. Please stop making that statement… (T)his council decided to put these messages out there as “value statements,” you are confirming that you completely don’t understand what is wrong with co-opting a message of pain. It is not your value statement, it is someone else’s message. You did not involve any of these people in the discussion before. To listen to your staff today say ‘the problem is we don’t have experts to turn to.’ To listen to Lynn Ware Peek say ‘we started this initiative and we learned that we cannot have an ally leading this. We have to have someone who represents these views not just as values . . . . ‘ You’ve chosen to not involve these people. You’ve chosen to make decisions as white people to turn to other white people. Anybody with any kind of curatorial experience would have known what was going on that street, would have known about the potential political implications, would have thought to call our police chief and alert him, especially given the violence down the street.
We are not all at the same place, and if you guys could step back for one second and acknowledge that you have no responsibility leading this discussion and no responsibility taking action on it until you consult with the people who do, I think we would be in a very different place. It is almost a year later and to have an apology come from our city manager at this point, but to have Tim Henney say ‘I’m so sick of having this discussion, people don’t understand.’ Like it’s such a problem for you guys to explain to the community.
And so, I’ll go back to you again, Max Doilney. When you say that “it’s not fair to say that there is an issue with the murals and an issue with… “
Andy Beerman: “We are not going to tolerate personal attacks here so if you want to… “
Moschetta: “I am responding to comments. So, Max says ‘it’s not fair to attack the process.’ There was no process. You guys made no effort to embrace the people you should have. That is clear.”
Beerman: “I (asked you) not to be personal. You continue it. We’re cutting you off.” [signals a staffer to cut her off]
I questioned the action and Tim Henney emailed this response: “Angela was asked to refrain from making her comments personal in nature and warned that if she did not her input would be discontinued. She chose not to adjust her comments and was discontinued.”
I think the Mayor’s action and Tim’s comments are dangerous for local democracy.
Transparency begs critical comment. Muting opinions is unhealthy for democracy. Does criticizing individual city officials justify nullifying free speech? Are criticism of individual elected officials always a “personal attack?” Does the Mayor and City Council allow uncomfortable conversations?
We will vote soon – our vote is the answer to the questions.
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