But this is ridiculous.

Deprived of the opportunity to speak to a City Council committee about its plan to hire a $30,000 state lobbyist, Darlene Heslop apparently could not contain herself. She sighed and rolled her eyes — and was promptly ejected from the June 14 meeting. Surely nobody expects the committee to conduct its business effectively if citizens are free to make facial expressions in public.

(the Chicago Tribune editors say wryly)

“Making faces behind the mayor’s back is disruptive, in my opinion,” said committee chairman Stephen Hipskind, who told Heslop to leave.

So small town council members are going after “non-verbal outbursts.” Yes, that’s what it says.

Funny thing about public meetings: They tend to expose disparate viewpoints, especially if the discussion is about something like whether it’s a smart idea for one government body to spend taxpayer dollars to lobby another government body for more taxpayer dollars.

Which is what this town council was discussing, prompting the eye-roll.

Our advice to public servants who think citizen discourse is somehow disrespectful to the democratic process: Get over yourselves. Your job is to heed those opinions, like them or not. If a pair of arched eyebrows can bring the legislative process to a halt, then it’s time to throw out the aldermen, not the citizens.

Now imagine this whole scenario writ large. Elections are just 98 days away.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....