Dear Commissioner McAulay,
The Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MUMPO) Public Involvement Plan states that MUMPO is “committed to meaningful public involvement in the regional transportation planning process. MUMPO believes public participation is not a simple “add on” or “after thought,” but a method that guarantees high quality transportation planning.”
When nearly 50 citizens drive to downtown Charlotte on May 22 to address MUMPO on the subject of I-77 toll lanes, your job as chairwoman was to ensure the integrity of that commitment.
Of those 50, 18 wanted to speak during the public comment period and followed MUMPO’s procedure to do so. You said only one could speak because you assumed these citizens- your neighbors and constituents- were all part of the same group. When I tried to explain that I did not recognize most of them, and that they came as individuals, you eliminated the public comment period altogether.
Eighteen citizens came to exercise their right to petition their government. None did.
You denied those citizens their First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution and the right to assemble and petition under the North Carolina Constitution.
I addressed you respectfully, yet you ordered me to the podium and then ordered me to sit. You addressed me not as a citizen peacefully pursuing his right to petition his government, but rather as a serf in your private kingdom.
Of course, this is not the first time you have done so. You put citizens on a timer and rudely cut them off the second their time is up. Instead of respecting the effort citizens make to attend and speak at a MUMPO meeting, you treat them as if you were poaching an egg. You have made a mockery of MUMPO’s public comment period and public involvement requirements.
I am especially conflicted as I write this on Memorial Day, a time when we pause to remember those who gave their lives to defend the very freedoms you so cavalierly trample. I can only wonder what they would say if they were alive to witness your actions.
Regarding the behavior of others at the meeting, I cannot condemn nor support their actions (they came as individuals) except to say when a government official denies citizens their constitutional rights, one should expect outrage. Whether that outrage was constructively directed, those individuals will have to answer in their own time and manner.
I realize you have served many years as Mayor and Commissioner of Huntersville. But no government official, no matter how long or distinguished their record, should continue to serve when they abuse their authority to deny citizens their rights.
You have done so in the most brazen, egregious manner I have ever witnessed. You dishonor the office you hold, the town of Huntersville, and the people you took an oath to serve. You do not deserve to be a Commissioner much less the chair of a powerful organization.
You should resign.
With all due respect,
Kurt Naas, Cornelius