Editor Raps against Public Comment Restrictions at City Council


(APN) ATLANTA — The below article is adapted from two press releases sent to Atlanta media outlets earlier today.

The News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News, Matthew Cardinale, protested limitations on public comment at the Atlanta City Council meeting earlier today at 1pm.

A Youtube video of today’s rap is available below. Fox 5 Atlanta also played a portion of the rap during their evening news broadcast:

Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12) has proposed to limit public comment at the Community Development/Human Resources Committee to five minutes.

CD/HR is one of the most important Council Committees that deals with housing, homelessness, the Beltline, etc.

Currently, public comment is unrestricted in Committee meetings, while public comment at Full Council meetings is restricted to two (2) minutes.

“I frequently make public comment about issues of importance to Atlanta’s progressive community, often directly sharing with Council Members research and analysis relating to Atlanta Progressive News’s coverage of local public policy issues,” Cardinale said.

“The proposed time limits are arbitrary. Two weeks ago I made a speech before Public Safety that lasted nine (9) minutes; I couldn’t have done it in five. In early 2008, I spoke before CD/HR about the proposed public housing demolitions. One time I made a 15 minute speech, and every word was something Council Members could not hear anywhere else, and these were facts pertinent to issues before the Committee,” Cardinale said.

It is unclear whether Sheperd even has the authority to issue the new rules for CD/HR, or whether the Committee should have voted to approve them.

In any event, it is important to oppose this policy before a dangerous, anti-democratic precedent is set.

“I began thinking about how Joyce rhymes with voice; and before you knew it, the muse was with me,” Cardinale said.

Cardinale sang the following rap during the two minute public comment portion, in a creative response to this very important issue:

What? 1-2-1-2. What? Check it out.

Here’s a little story about a woman named Joyce.

She was so confused she wants to silence your voice.

She wants to limit public comment in Council Committee.

And if y’all don’t stop her, then it won’t be pretty.

Five minutes ain’t enough – to cover all our stuff.

Five minutes ain’t sufficient – we shouldn’t need permission.

What do I have to do? To break it down for you?

And if you don’t respect it, you may not get reelected.

Boom- Are you feeling it?

If so, here’s the second verse:

What happened to by the people, for the people?

Of the people, with the people?

Don’t hate the people, don’t squash the people

Don’t hurt the people, don’t slight the people.

You think it’s okay, but what would Jefferson say?

You think it’s the right thing, but let’s ask Dr. King.

It’s supposed to be democracy- for you and me!

We don’t need no hypocrisy- so let’s get free!

There should be a celebration, of our participation.

Instead you want to keep the public out the conversation.

If you censor public speech just for expedience

Then maybe it’s time for civil disobedience.



About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

Revised syndication policy:

Our syndication policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html

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