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Judge Manley is a huge disappointment for citizens looking for an honest interpretation of the law. He recently ruled against citizens in a suit involving Polson with clear violations of “open meeting laws” and the “right to know” during the hiring process of the city manager.  His reasons had little to do with law and much more to do with hearsay.

  1. Judge Manley said the group had a history of creating problems at meetings. Judge Manley has not attended city meetings. Who is his source of information? Does he consider it a problem if someone expresses a viewpoint during public comment that may be contrary to those expressed by others or encourages consideration of new information regarding an agenda item?
  2. Judge Manley referred to minutes that stated a member of the group “publicly and insultingly accused Commission members of being ‘corrupt and criminal’”.   The audio tape will reveal that the citizen he is referring to was only stating his belief that the process was corrupt and he never called anyone criminal. Judge Manley actually said that may be reason enough for the City Commission to desire to “conduct some business in the quiet, non-disruptive confines of executive session.” Judge Manley should know it does not matter what they desire. We have laws. We have a Montana Constitution that must be followed, specifically Article II, Sections 8 & 9.
  3. Judge Manley stated that one member of the group was disruptive in the courtroom by arguing. What happened was much less dramatic. A person (not an identified group member) first raised his hand and then stood and asked to be heard. Perhaps that was not proper conduct in a courtroom, but how can Judge Manley compare that to a citizen’s right to speak to his elected city representatives during a time set aside for comments? Manley actually stated that the “angry outburst” (which was NO outburst at all) swayed his decision to favor the city.
  4. Manley stated there is no dispute that meetings to hire the city manager were closed and decisions were made. But he ignores that this violates the public’s rights and his obligation to see that laws are upheld. Instead he holds his personal subjective “rules of conduct” above the rights guaranteed in our first amendment.  He said, “When free speech and right to participate is taken as a green light to violate rules of conduct and insult public officials, this does not water the tree of participatory democracy.”

Summary: Manley is subjective in his decisions and he does not feel it is necessary for a judge to apply law. Get rid of Bullock’s appointee and ELECT MARK RUSSELL ON NOVEMBER 4.