Everyone agrees that the internet, and social media, and cellular information, is aiding the people.

These tools make it increasingly difficult for people, in power, to circulate lies and propaganda and not get caught. Take for instance Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin, or New Jersey. In each case the political leaders, be it kings or governors, lie frequently, and circulate propaganda. The question always is “Are we going to get caught at it.” Let’s take a specific example from yesterday.

NJ Governor Christie: From NYTimes 3/9/11 “A few months later, in November, when the Assembly speaker, Sheila Y. Oliver, a Democrat, and the governor were sparring over pension issues, she said she had requested a meeting with the governor. Mr. Christie called that “a lie.” Ms. Oliver’s office promptly produced text messages from the Assembly staff making the request.”

Let’s move the ‘humanity and government’ and a small town jersey girl from the world and from NJ State back down to the local. At the local, Amelia goes to a work meeting to help with various issues. Please note: she goes there to help; the committee has asked her to volunteer, she has attended workshops and done research because they asked her to. Her issue/committee has been on the last two agendas and is on the agenda for next week. It is an ongoing topic in development.

However, the frelinghuysenfolly committee decided that they could go to jail for up to 5 years if they let me speak yesterday. The reason?  Amelia is not on the agenda. They cite specific pending law and memos from the NJ Attorney General’s office. I say, ‘well, I appreciate this attention to the details and to procedure. I certainly will not argue for why it is appropriate for me to address the committee during a work meeting if we are following the rules.”

But it turns out that in fact they are citing a law about citizen’s speaking that applies to situations where you PUBLISH IN ADVANCE your township agenda. Have we ever published our agenda in advance? NEVER.  So, in the end, Amelia was not allowed to speak.  This issue was debated and there was dissent regarding this action to deny me a few minutes to discuss solar and wind.

But, then, after talk, they made room for me in between two meetings, for 10 minutes, because I suggested that talking, rather than not talking, was my goal as an educator and township sub-committee person. I was thankful but confounded; I was positioned as “unofficial and off the record.” I got to talk, but unofficially. We talked solar and wind. I question how much listening was going on; because there was a lot of debating.

But in between their proclamation that they could go to jail for up to 5 years if they let me speak, and my speaking off the record in a sincere educational attempt, an interesting thing happened.

This interesting thing is this. The committee agreed they needed to go into executive session because land and a pending contract was on the table… and I was there confounding them. It was suggested that I should leave, or they should leave. I gladly jumped up and said “Oh one person is easier than 6 let me go.” And I gathered my purse and folder and left my lap top plugged in and open on a chair in the room, then I headed out.

But as I was leaving a township committee man said “She’s leaving her laptop on?” And I stopped and thought oh how stupid of me to leave my computer I should go and get it, and I headed back into the room.  And, then, he said “Just saying.”

I say, ‘wow’ inside. This guy just inadvertently suggested that I was doing something illegal. I know, and have been read by the township attorney, the laws regarding taping and circulating recordings of town meetings. (at my request) I am able to record any government meeting, as long as I disclose that I am doing it (and no one could ever say no). But if I do not disclose that I am recording, then I am committing an illegal act. Really, one has to ask: Why was this elected official bothered by my leaving my computer on? There really could be no other issue than the fact that he was concerned that I might be doing something illegal with my computer. He was protecting the town while pointing his finger at me- a concerned and active citizen.

So as I am recovering from it being suggested that I was engaged in illegal activity, an activity that Amelia would never ever engage in without disclosure, she shut her computer down. And said to herself “Oh Amelia, don’t scoff at them- they hate it when you scoff at them.”

In my utopia, frelinghuysenfolly follows the Green Township model. On the website, for each official township meeting,  it has the date, the agenda, the minutes when approved, and an audio file of the meeting. Eazy-peezy.

And, in my utopia if an elected official accuses a volunteer and citizen of an illegal act, and they are wrong, then they have to make a public apology for false accusation. And, in addition to this public admittance, everyone thinks about what this official says in general. Is what he says creating divisiveness and troubled relations, or is he creating healthy and trust-based relations. Hummm. I think I will think about this for a bit to move it from short-term memory to long-term memory.

 “If someone in government is paranoid to that level, and that fearful of others doing the wrong thing and trying to pull one over, chances are it’s because he is busy pulling one over himself.”

Stay tuned for an excellent report about mail boxes and identity!

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