Is Arkansas Town Now the Least Democratic in the USA?
The city council of Gould, Arkansas just passed an ordinance that forbids "new organizations" from forming without their permission. This applies to any organization, from book groups to Justin Beiber Fan Club chapters—but especially applies to groups that like to talk local politics.
"The ordinance states, 'No new organizations shall be allowed to exist within the city of Gould without approval from majority of the city council,'" reports the Fox News affiliate in Little Rock. And that's not all: Because it's so squishy language-wise, the ordinance seems to forbid the 850 or so residents of Gould—a town located in the southeastern corner of the squarish state—from discussing local politics in any way, anywhere. Meetings between citizens and the town mayor that take place without the council's authorization are now illegal as well. Whoa, control freaks!
According to the Arkansas Times, the mayor of Gould, Earnest Nash (pictured above), vetoed the ordinance for reasons having to do with the U.S. Constitution, which mentions freedom of speech and the right of assembly somewhere. But the council overrode his veto, and will surely give the official green-light to their legislative masterpiece at their next meeting, scheduled for August (unless they ban it?). Nash says he's willing to go to jail—or court, or both—to stop final passage of the ordinance, which even the Gould city attorney has deemed unlawful. (As a show of gratitude for the attorney's analysis, the council reportedly tried to fire him.)
In a press release, the Gould Citizens Advisory Council—the grassrootsy organization targeted by the new ordinance—expresses concerns about the council's recent actions. Such as? Oh, making their organization illegal, evicting them from their meeting place, and—on a separate note—rejecting funds for sewage system improvements. The GCAC also seems a little worried about the future of democracy in their town, for reasons that hopefully don't require any explanation. [Arkansas Times, Fox Nation, Fox 16. Image via Fox News]