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Letter to the Editor: Troubled by Mueller’s removal from commission

Mayor King,  Austin City Council,

I was more than troubled by the conduct of the meeting held by the Austin Human Rights Commission in which the removal of Dan Mueller was accomplished.  The most unsettling part of the entire meeting and subsequent removal of Mr. Mueller is that it appears there wasn’t a single shred of evidence that would constitute what was done to him.  Secondly, it is quite apparent that the commissioners had made their decision prior to the meeting.  I suspect there to be existing documents that were more relevant to the commissioner case that were not addressed at the removal meeting. If in fact there is additional evidence and documentation, it appears that it was not shared publicly.

It was particularly concerning when you announced at the council meeting that there would be no public comment allowed, including from Mr. Mueller himself. I spent nearly 30 years in public life, which includes time on the City Council as the Alder Person at Large, First Ward Council member, and as Mower County Sheriff. In both roles as sheriff and council member, the public was and always has been allowed to comment on any decision we were contemplating.  At times the comments could be quite unfriendly, but as an elected official it was my duty to listen to and take into consideration how the people that I served felt about any given situation. Regardless, I either bit my tongue and listened or got unfriendly myself. Sometimes both!

As mayor, it is your job to listen to all who wish to speak.  Many years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court described what the constitution means on this issue by saying, “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”  When the Supreme Court speaks, it is not making a suggestion.

Mr. Mayor, I believe that you have made a profound mistake. There has never been and will never be an acceptable reason to quash public comment. Politicians are elected to serve the people; it is unfortunate that the community was not allowed the rights that the men and women of our country have fought and died for.

I look forward to your response.

Wayne Goodnature

Austin, MN