Letter: Citizens deserve to be heard in Augusta
The Legislature used to allow more fairness and less manipulation in their public hearings than they do today. Citizens were asked to leave their name and copies for the committee when testifying, but proponents and opponents were treated fairly as to time allotted.
Recently I went to the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee to testify, only to find it weighed heavily in the direction the committee chairman wanted it to go. People who wished to testify were made to wait in line for a long period to sign up ahead and notify not only which bill among many, but whether they were pro or con and then given a number for their slot at testifying. It smacked of arrogance and condescension on the part of the committee chairman and leaves citizens feeling poorly respected.
I asked the sergeant-at-arms as to the authority of this citizen censorship and he did not comment, but I later learned it was the committee chairman, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick. This is ludicrous and treating the public poorly. Because the pro speakers went so long, many who came to testify in opposition had to leave. The bias was obvious and needs to be corrected. We spent all day and only two bills out of the six to be heard had been done by 6 in the evening.
It seems that Sen. Gerzofsky has overstepped his power and is trying to muzzle the people. Is that any way for our Legislature to treat the people?
George A. Fogg