According to a report by Complete Colorado, the Erie Town Council, not particularly known for moderation, has apologized to a GOP women’s group, Republican Women of Weld over discrimination regarding use of its community center.
Last week, WOW announced that it had to cancel a meeting that featured a speaker on the future of the oil and gas industry in Weld County. The town’s deputy town administrator, Farrell Buller, called the topic “politically sensitive” and canceled the group’s reservation for the facility. WOW President DeAndrea Arndt offered to change the topic so the group could continue its meeting, but Buller refused because the group meeting at a publicly-funded facility “was not acceptable, regardless of the topic or make up of the meeting.” Read: Republican groups not welcome.
Buller’s take on the law was completely false and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler set him straight, noting that this type of discrimination was unconstitutional and threatened legal action. Here’s his rationale:
“It’s unconstitutional for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s straight up content discrimination. You can’t discriminate based on viewpoint, certainly not in a rented city facility. It allows the Town Board of Trustees to pick winners and losers politically. They can waive those prohibitions based on if they like what is being said. Thirdly, it’s ambiguous. If this town retains that policy, I’m confident an Article 3 Federal Judge will readily strike it down.”
Erie Mayor Jennifer Carroll said in her apology, “On behalf of the town, I am sorry to you guys for the way this played out. I welcome diversity in all areas of life, especially in speech. I love to debate anyone on any topic.”
As someone who ran on a platform of fracking reform, we highly doubt that she’s so open to the debate on the topic of fracking, but glad to see that right-leaning groups are not being discriminated against when threatened with legal action.