Council stifles all opposing views

By Theresa Skorseth, Guest Columnist

Monday evening, “after” the City Council meeting had been adjourned, and as the room was empyting, I said to my friends, in a loud voice, that the City Council President Don Klinker is a fascist. A fascist is a person of narrow beliefs who uses a position of power to forcibly suppress opposition.

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I had asked, weeks earlier, for a place on the agenda to argue that the social club for rich people known as the “Sister City Committee” should not be given $3,000 a year from city revenues to provide booze, food and entertainment for rich people from France. The suggestion I had intended to make was that the city spend that money on things that people in Little Falls (where the revenues are generated) actually need.

When my agenda item came up, instead of calling me to the podium, Mayor VanRisseghem invited Melissa Peterson up, the president of the Sister City. Note: Ms. Peterson had not requested a place on the agenda, although it had been decided by vote that no citizen could be heard without previous arrangements. After 10-plus minutes of breathless testimonial about the lofty virtues of this rich people’s club, the Council voted — not to stop funding Sister City.

I made my way to the podium to give my scheduled presentation only to discover that President Klinker was already announcing the next agenda item. I protested that I had not been heard but he stolidly continued to speak, raising his voice to drown mine. After my third insistence on being heard, he glared at me and said, “We don’t need to hear you, it’s already been decided.” He went back to discussing the next item: the mayor’s errand boy, Police Chief Schirmers, approached me threateningly, so I sat down.

As I resumed my seat, Mayor VanRisseghem peered at her copy of the agenda, pursed her lips, raised her eyebrows and murmured softly, “Oh, I guess she was on the agenda.”

I’ve suspected for some time that the Council had a plan, and now I think it is to behave so unlawfully, to demonstrate such contempt for Robin (Hensel) — and now me — or anyone they can’t pay in salary or favors, to smooch up to them, so as to provoke us into making scenes. And it’s worked so far. This would let them argue in court that they’re helpless victims of loonies, dingbats and hippies — completely bypassing all pressing questions of ethics and right government.

That’s why they peopled the audience with shills and cronies that night. That their pals had been recruited for their support couldn’t have been more obvious if they’d supplied them with torches and pitchforks.

So, I am writing this editorial to express my regret (even though no meeting was in session and I was speaking to my friends) for calling Don Klinker a fascist loud enough to be heard by others. He absolutely is a fascist and so is the mayor and probably most of the rest of the Council, but I won’t be raising my voice in public again.

Theresa Skorseth is a resident of the city of Little Falls.