Stop Hagerstown Indiana's Oppression

Stop Hagerstown Indiana's Oppression

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The Hagerstown Report started this petition to Hagerstown Indiana Town Council

The Town Council of Hagerstown, Indiana has a transparency problem...

On the most recent utility bill issued by the Town of Hagerstown, Indiana, residents found a surprising $5 charge simply labeled as "Z".

Upon inquiries by town residents, it was discovered just how non-transparent and oppressive the Hagerstown government truly is.

According to a Facebook post by the town government, the ordinance approving this extra charge to pay for new light poles in town was voted for and approved on September 17, 2019. However, according to residents the September 17th meeting was listed as an "advisory planning commission meeting", not a full council meeting. Many residents appear unaware that this item was on the meeting agenda.

When pressed on the issue regarding why there was no online announcement regarding the meeting agenda, the Town of Hagerstown simply replied that "Legal notices are required to be published in the local newspaper per Indiana Law."

This is an extremely poor excuse for not keeping residents informed of meeting times and agendas, when it costs nothing for the town to post events to social media.

There's complying with the letter of the law for Indiana's open meetings law, and there's complying with the spirit of the law. While Hagerstown, Indiana may have complied with the "letter of the law", it is questionable if the town complied with the spirit of the law - especially if the meeting was advertised as a planning commission meeting, and not a full council meeting.

Unfortunately, Hagerstown's problems don't stop there...

When called out on social media regarding the obscure charge, obscure meetings, and general unwillingness by the town council to make things as open and transparent as possible, the Town of Hagerstown started blocking some people from commenting on their Facebook page and deleting their comments.

While this behavior is completely acceptable for a private organization, as a Government entity the town must play by a different set of rules.

In January of this year, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a public official cannot block people for posting their opinions on their Facebook page if that page is open for public comment.

By extension, since the Town of Hagerstown's Facebook page is run by town employees who operate at the direction of the town council, this ruling most likely applies to the town's official Facebook page as well.

This behavior is ethically questionable, and possibly a violation of the 1st Amendment

The residents of Hagerstown, Indiana deserve better than this.

To make amends for multiple violations of the rights of its citizens, we require the following of every member of the Town of Hagerstown's council who voted to approve the $5 charge on residents' electric bills.

  1. Immediately issue a stop work order for any contract involving new light poles in town until this situation is resolved.
  2. Immediately rescind the ordinance allowing the town to charge $5 extra per bill towards these new light poles.
  3. Immediately refund all residents the $5 charge which was levied against their utility bill.
  4. After all of the above have been completed, immediately resign

We thank you for your support in keeping government open, accountable, and prevent infringement against the First Amendment.

Don't stop with just signing the petition! Call the Town of Hagerstown and express your thoughts! (765) 489-6171

0 have signed. Let’s get to 25!
At 25 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!