KINGMAN - Two residents offered a silent protest Monday to how some residents have been treated by the county.
Residents Luca Zanna and Dean Jacobs slapped pieces of duct tape over their mouths at the County Board of Supervisors meeting, protesting the policy prohibiting political activity on county property.
A third county resident, Susan Bayer, was more vocal about the situation during a discussion of the county's citizen participation plan for the Mohave County General Plan update.
"I'm confused as to why the citizens' participation is actually needed," she said. "In the past you have usually gone with what the task force (of county employees set up to advise the Board on the review) recommended. I've attended their meetings, the citizens are just to sit there like little sheeple and to be treated as stupid as possible."
Citizen participation on past county projects and reviews has been dismissed, she said.
County Manager Ron Walker attempted to interrupt Bayer by pointing out that the Board was supposed to be discussing the time, place and date of the public hearings on the general plan review, but she continued to talk over Walker.
"I believe there should be no reason to have the public input on anything since you do not listen to the public at all," she said. "You violate the Constitution and our First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, so therefore, why would you even want the citizens to participate in anything this county has to say or do?"
Bayer was greeted with applause from some members of the audience when she finished.
Zanna and Jacobs were asked by Supervisor Buster Johnson to stop passing out flyers during a November town hall meeting held by Sen. John McCain. The flyers contained McCain's voting record.
Zanna said that the policy infringes on his First Amendment right to free speech.
The policy is based off an Arizona Revised Statute that prevents county employees and officials from using their office, county property, supplies or employees from influencing an election.
The county has extended this statute to include the public to prevent any appearance of political activity on county property and to allow residents to enter and leave county buildings without being asked to sign petitions or listen to political speeches, County Attorney Bill Ekstrom has said previously.
Dan Barr, from Perkins Coie in Phoenix, an attorney who works with the Arizona Newspaper Association, didn't see anything in the language of the statute that would prevent someone from the public from passing out information on county property, as long as the person was not being disruptive.
"It appears to be directed only toward county employees," Barr said about the statute's intent.
Other "talking points" at the meeting:
Dolan Springs resident Mark Shaver asked why communities with area plans were not able to participate in the taskforce.
Walker repeated that the agenda item was about the time and place of public meetings and not about the task force itself.
Walker offered to explain the public's roll in the task force after the meeting.
Kingman resident Mervin Fried spoke out on property taxes. He repeated his message from the Board's January meeting that property taxes in the county were too high and something should be done to lower them.