Nicholas Goldberg: Jeering, screaming and upending the City Council is arrogant, irresponsible and ineffective.
The City Council recently held a public hearing to discuss the future of the New York Police Department’s controversial policy of “stop and frisk.”
The stop and frisk program has turned New York into a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants and the nation’s most murderous police state.
The City Council, like all elected officials, is a creature of a broken political system, where elected representatives are often not accountable to anyone, other than themselves.
When elected representatives hold hearings on the public’s right to speak, they’re not merely a public service. They are essentially holding an unconstitutional trial, a hearing like a jury trial.
The City Council can demand that witnesses be brought over from Albany and it can demand that testimony be taken under oath: in other words, the City Council can demand unlimited power and unlimited secrecy to prevent public scrutiny of the police department and the mayor’s office.
What they have now is the power to hold any elected representative responsible for his or her actions or inactions.
And that can’t be good.
The City Council is currently considering legislation to curb the power and secrecy of a citizen’s right to call witnesses.
It would permit elected representatives to determine what evidence they would like to be presented to them in a public hearing, even though the Constitution, as well as the New York State Constitution, clearly sets out the right to confront witnesses and present evidence.
In addition, the rules that determine what a public hearing is and who can attend it are set out in the State Constitution.
When the City Council holds public hearings, its “rules” say that the public must be permitted to bring over all witnesses in their possession, even if they’re not called to testify.
When the City Council holds public hearings, its “rules” say that a “member” can determine whether a “potential witness” should be presented to the City Council.
When the City Council holds public hearings, its “rules” say that members in the audience can challenge a “potential