Political leaders, municipal employees and everyday citizens across the region must condemn the gag order approved by PerkinsTownship trustees Bill Dwelle and Jeff Ferrell on Tuesday.
They also should condemn the way in which it was approved. Obviously, Dwelle and Ferrell discussed this at length outside a public forum. That, in itself, violates the spirit and intent of the state's public meetings law, which requires public policy deliberations be conducted in public. That didn't happen.
But more importantly, the gag order violates the spirit and intent of the U.S. Constitution. It prohibits all township employees from talking about anything that might have any impact on the township. If it is allowed to stand, any employee could be reprimanded for simply talking about the weather, or anything else. Dwelle and Ferrell are way under-qualified to be tinkering with the constitution. That also is painfully obvious.
It's disappointing these two want to suppress any further discussion of the joint dispatch proposal, which polic Chief Tim McClung was previously ordered by the trustee board to review and discuss. We agree with the conclusions reached by the citizens' committee appointed by trustees that the a combined dispatch and police headquarters will substantially reduce township and city expenditures and improve police and fire services in both communities.
As elected officials, however, Dwelle and Ferrell have the right to now ask, or order, McClung to stop discussing joint dispatch. That could have been accomplished by giving clear and simple instructions. If McClung violates those instructions -- and we doubt he would -- then he could be reprimanded.
Instead, these two approve a boneheaded and dangerous blanket policy that is unenforceable and unconstitutional. It needs to be repealed, and these guys need to get to the business of getting township finances in order.