Orange Street News

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Message From Hilde:Borough Speech Rules Should be Applied Equally

10/25/2016

By Hilde Kate Lysiak

On 10/3/16, the Borough Council called the  911 emergency line on journalist and Selinsgrove resident Vincent Stoops.

His crime? Mr. Stoops spoke for three minutes past the five minute speaking limit allowed by the Borough.

At the eight minute mark Stoops was interrupted and told to stop. Mr. Stoops refused, saying he had one more point to finish.

Next, video footage of the incident reviewed by the OSN shows Borough President Marv Rudnitsky telling the Borough Manager Paul Williams to “call 911.”

A few minutes later the police showed up. Stoops left without any more incidents.

The Borough Manager  defended his actions, telling the OSN that rules are rules and they needed to be followed.

But although Stoops had gone over the allowed time, video footage showed that other speakers before him were allowed to talk for over ten minutes without interruption or having the police be called.

What was this all about?

The OSN doesn’t believe a limit on speech is needed since the board meetings in Selinsgrove aren’t exactly overcrowded with people. These speakers are all people who care about the community. Would it really hurt to stay a few minutes extra and hear what they have to say?

At least if the five minute were rule applied equally to all the speakers, the OSN could understand cutting Mr. Stoops off, but because other speakers were allowed to speak for longer than ten minutes it made it look like the Borough members had a personal issue with Mr. Stoops, who is often critical of them.

Is that a reason to call 911? A number for emergencies?

911 number should be used for emergencies only, not to shut people up.

Even if they don’t like what Mr. Stoops has to say, he is still a member of the community and has the right to have his voice heard — or at the very least be given as much time to speak as any other member of the community.

8 comments on “Message From Hilde:Borough Speech Rules Should be Applied Equally

  1. Tony Chapman
    October 25, 2016

    Its kind of funny. During the presidential debates both candidates when over the limit over and over yet they got away with it. But in the small town setting its a crime.

    Like

  2. Middle Merloy
    October 25, 2016

    I absolutely agree with every point Ms. Lysiak has stated in this article. It is childish of the Borough President Marv Rudnitsky to utilize the emergency response network to quiet a disagreeable speaker, Mr. Rudnitsky is tying up valuable public resources for a petty gesture. This smells of abuse of power. I appreciate the Orange Street News reporting on the unfair distribution of time to speakers at council meetings. Another example of the press maintaining accountability in government.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Desertphile
    October 25, 2016

    Calling the emergency response line (911) is supposed to be the last desperate act necessary in an emergency; using it to silence a journalist (or anyone else) seems criminal to me. I hope the person who called 911 is fined, and ordered to obey the law.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol Norman
    October 25, 2016

    I so agree with you Hilde! That was NOT an emergency, and so it was not wise to tie up the emergency line, nor was it necessary to bring an Officer down from Shamokin Dam as the Selinsgrove Police Station is right across the street from the Borough Office. I don’t know what Mr. Stoops was talking to the Council about, but you’re right , he should have been allowed to finish, even if the Council didn’t agree with what he was saying.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Fredric L. Rice
    October 25, 2016

    Wow, really? Rudnitsky and Williams should be charged for the crime of making false emergency calls, they need to be fined and both of them spend a year in prison to give them time to reflect on the seriousness of their crimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Desertphile
      October 25, 2016

      A year in prison may be too harsh. The abusive council members should be censured and warned to not repeat their abuse.

      Like

  6. Hannah
    October 25, 2016

    I do not live in Selinsgrove, but I agree 100%! This is an abuse of an emergency line.

    Like

  7. Mike Matt
    October 25, 2016

    Kudos to Hilde, excellent reporting. I agree with the previous comments. Rudnitzky was way out of line and obviously had some sort of personal vendetta he was pursuing. I also agree there should be consequences for his calling 911. This number is for dire emergencies, not petty peeves!

    Like

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