By Katherine Johnson
Arkansas Town Threatens Citizens’ Constitutional Rights
“I feel as though our city is being held hostage by the city council,” said Gould Mayor Earnest Nash.
Gould, Arkansas is made up of about 850 people. 850 people the Mayor believes will soon have cause for 850 lawsuits.
“This is America and even though this is Gould, Arkansas, this is still part of America. And in America, you can’t just vote and violate peoples constitutional rights,” said Nash.
Monday night, the city council wrote an ordinance disbanding a citizen’s group and forbidding any future groups from forming without city council approval.
The ordinance states, “No new organizations shall be allowed to exist within the city of Gould without approval from majority of the city council.”
Another ordinance bans the mayor from meeting with anyone without council approval.
“To tell me that I can’t travel and I can’t go to meetings and I can’t get the money that we need – that’s ludicrous!” said the Mayor.
“In everything, you have somebody in control over it. In everything,” said Council Member Sonja Farley.
Farley says no matter the group, if you discuss the city at all, the meeting must be approved by the city council.
“You couldn’t just come in here and get with four people and decide you want to start an organization,” said Farley. “You will go through your city council with documentation, the right paperwork and get an approval.”
“To tell me as the mayor I can’t meet with all of the people in this room and inform them of city business, that’s ludicrous,” said Nash.
The Gould Citizens Advisory Commission is banned from meeting in the ordinance. They argue this new potential law would violate their constitutional rights.
Currently, as written, the ordinance is extremely vague. Right now it encompasses boy scout troops, book clubs and even discussing city matters with your family in your own home.