Independence Examiner, Saturday 04/20/02


The Examiner

Protest isn't a big threat

Thumbs down to the shabby treatment of two citizens this week by the administration of County Executive Katheryn Shields. On the day that Shields delivered her State of the County address, two citizens Bob WitbolsFeugen and Karen Turner came to protest peacefully. They recently won a judgment against the county over violations of the Missouri open-meeting law, a case the county executive's office essentially refuses to discuss. WitbolsFeugen and Turner still on the hook for $30,000-plus in legal bills even though they went to court to compel their government to do the right thing and they won handed out leaflets and carried protest signs around the County Courthouse. County sheriff's deputies confiscated two signs inside the building, where Shields spoke. There was some political theater from the other side too, as County Legislator Victor Callahan, who often clashes with Shields, had WitbolsFeugen sit in his chair for the speech. Deputies even tried to remove WitbolsFeugen. Pretty silly stuff. Where does Shields get off with an idea like confiscating signs and having dissenters removed? People are free to agree or disagree with WitbolsFeugen and Turner, but they aren't hurting anything. How can a county executive possibly feel threatened by that? Public officials reasonably can be expected to have a little thicker skin than that, can't they?

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