© 2011 by Jack D. Wilson
This issue of illegal bullying and coercion by elected officials has reared its ugly face in Prescott Arizona in a First Amendment lawsuit against Mayor Marlin Kuykendall and former City Manager Steve Norwood, among others. Rumors abound regarding the mayor’s Jekyll and Hyde personality with several people saying the mayor has a violent reaction to any form of criticism. Those rumors gained more substance today.
Today the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to protect the rights of former United States Marine and single mother KayAnne Riley:
“In a case that will define just how far elected officials can go to silence their critics, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the City of Prescott Mayor, City Manager and several officials with the Yavapai Humane Society on behalf of an employee of the animal shelter who was fired for her involvement with a group called Prescott Citizens Against Bullies.”
- Mayor Marlin Kuykendall
- Former City Manager Steve Norwood
- Yavapai Humane Society Executive Director Ed Boks
- Yavapai Humane Society board member Marty Goodman
The news release contains a statement from Riley:
“The Mayor has brought a culture of fear and intimidation to Prescott, and I am the perfect example of why everyone is afraid to speak out against public misdeeds,” said KayAnne Riley, 48, who has a 12-year-old daughter and was a combat correspondent stationed in Tokyo during the Gulf War in the 90s. “Elected officials shouldn’t go around using their positions of authority to get people fired. I felt I had an obligation to stand up for what is right and battle injustice. That’s one of the reasons I chose to serve in the Marines.”
The news release also states:
“According to the ACLU, board members and staff at the animal shelter made the decision to terminate Riley after Mayor Kuykendall threatened to terminate the contract between the Yavapai Humane Society and the city for Riley’s involvement with Prescott Citizens Against Bullies and for her participation in the protest. Riley’s boss, Yavapai Humane Society Executive Director Ed Boks, also had previously told her that “he had to take action to appease” Mayor Kuykendall and Yavapai Humane Society board member Marty Goodman. According to the ACLU complaint, Goodman was concerned that Riley’s participation in the public protest “was affecting his friendship with the Mayor.”
“Mayor Kuykendall and the City of Prescott have a history of retaliating against public employees and other Prescott citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights,” added Daniel Pochoda, ACLU of Arizona Legal Director. “KayAnne Riley has paid a dear price to expose government misconduct. Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold city officials accountable and avoid a repeat of such abusive and illegal acts in the future.”
The ACLU lawsuit argues that city officials violated Riley’s First Amendment rights by unlawfully retaliating against her for exercising her rights to the freedom of association, speech, and peaceful assembly. In addition to Mayor Kuykendall, and Boks and Goodman of the Yavapai Humane Society, former City Manager Steve Norwood also is a named defendant in the lawsuit.”
I thought I would close with a quote from a United States Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter in Baumgartner vs. United States:
“One of the prerogatives of American citizenship is the right to criticize public men and measures—and that means not only informed and responsible criticism but the freedom to speak foolishly and without moderation.”
News Release and entire claim
Both the release and the entire claim are be posted on the ACLU Web site at http://www.acluaz.org/issues/free-speech/2011-08/1096.
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Jack D. Wilson first visited Prescott in 1995 and has been a resident since 2000. He took a sojourn into politics and was the mayor of Prescott Arizona from Nov. 2007 – Nov. 2009. He now writes a couple of blogs among his many activities.