The Carrboro Board of Aldermen tonight voted unananimously to support freedom of speech on Chapel Hill Transit buses. Alderman Dan Coleman introduced the resolution:
Whereas, a constitutional right to freedom of speech is meaningless without forums within which to exercise it, and
Whereas, public forums are being diminished in the United States as a result of privatization and increasingly restrictive policies at all levels of government, and
Whereas, the Town of Carrboro has a long tradition of broadly supporting the opportunity for and exercise of free public discourse,
Now, therefore, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen affirms its support for policies that create a public forum and support the exercise of First Amendment rights within the Chapel Hill Transit system.
Earlier this week, in an e-mail to activists Miriam Thompson and Peggy Misch, Coleman emphasized the importance of the Chapel Hill Town Council seeking direction from the transit partners committee.
The Town Council appears to have entered new ground here which I am trying to clarify. Technically, according to the agreement, the Transit Partners make "reports and recommendations" on transit policy to the Town Council. In practice, for the seven years I have served on the committee, the Partners have set policy which has been rubber-stamped by the [Town Council]. To be consistent with this practice, [Chapel Hill] should not have had a forum on this but should have referred it immediately to the Partners for consideration of the policy. ... So, the questions are: does the Town Council wish to appropriate the decision-making role on this or are they referring it to the Partners for that purpose? If they are only asking for comment, is it from the committee or from the respective bodies? If they do want comment, how would that pertain to the ultimate decision?
At this evening's meeting, Coleman confirmed that the Town Council is awaiting input from the committee. It is unclear how the committee's input will shape the Town Council's final decision.