Adults should act like adults in public hearings
By Ken H. Fortenberry, Editor and Publisher
They are not illegal immigrants.
They are citizens. Taxpayers. Neighbors.
And they don’t deserve to be treated like they are some kind of green-headed alien creatures.
I get so weary of a handful of loud-mouth Denver old-timers who resort to personal attacks during public hearings. These hearings are conducted for the purpose of “hearing” what the public has to say about important issues being considered by governmental bodies. They are not supposed to be soapboxes for bigots.
I really get burned up by people like Gerald Henley who shouted to a woman to “go back where you come from” in a public hearing last week about the East Lincoln Development District. He got the expected chuckles and nods of approval from some other Bubbas in the room, but most people seemed to be shocked by his outcry.
He is welcome to his opinion, but there was no call for him to act like he did last week. Thank goodness that Planning Board Chairman Jeff Frushtick kept the meeting in order and told him to knock it off.
Henley did the same thing a couple of years ago in a public hearing about the Unified Development Ordinance in which he and some of his buddies tried to shout down citizens who were saying things they didn’t want to hear. They called them Yankees, Nazis, Communists and everything in between.
These are not high school football games, for goodness sakes. They are public hearings about some very important issues about the future of our community and our county.
To their credit, most speakers were civil and respectful, not only of each other, but of the process itself. While they blasted the government, they did not attack each other.
That is the way it should be.
Most of those who spoke out didn’t like the development plan, but there were many in the audience who were in favor, but for some reason didn’t speak up.
Maybe they didn’t want to be subjected to personal attacks.
As I left the hearing last Thursday night, I walked just behind a man and his son, the son presumably along to learn a little civics lesson.
They passed by another citizen – this one who was critical during the hearing of the ugliness of Highway 16.
“Why don’t she pack her ass up and go back where she came from?’ he said loud enough for her to hear.
Great civics lesson, dad.
Shame on you.