March 26, 2014

Editorial: City councilors' decisions conflict

When people are elected to office, they accept a responsibility to make decisions that take into account the views of all constituents and to act with fairness to everyone.

The new city councilors, a group of people who seem to care very much about making thoughtful decisions, just made a bad one, in our opinion.

It has to do with two groups that approached the city asking for special access in order to hold activities to spread their messages.

One group was the Bishop’s Apostles for Life, asking for permission to use three parking spaces in front of Planned Parenthood on Brinkerhoff Street for about an hour for its annual Good Friday prayer vigil.

The other was from SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Womyn’s Concerns, which wanted to march through city streets for about 45 minutes on April 26 for its annual Take Back the Night event.

Each of these groups considers its event to be an effective route of activism for its cause. Let us say right off that the Press-Republican supports both these endeavors — and has in years past — because we are wholeheartedly committed to freedom of speech, that most essential American right.

Both of these organizations have proven that they can complete these message-bearing actions in a peaceful, effective and calm manner.

Controversy has arisen with these events in the past but not because of any inappropriate action by the participants. The concerns were related to fears that something harmful could happen. It didn’t. And City Police are on hand to maintain order.

Councilors this year unanimously approved the Take Back the Night event, which will have participants marching through city streets late at night. But four of them — Rachelle Armstrong, Becky Kasper, Michael Kelly and Josh Kretser — balked at giving the same approval to the group that wanted to use three parking spaces for about an hour to pray.

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