Trina Triche, a regular at City Hall, had been preparing her remarks for nearly a week. She was going to address the City Council on the topic of government corruption and wanted to make sure she was signed up to speak during the open mic forum that closes each meeting.
She told the city secretary's office last week that she planned to deliver her remarks on Monday. She even filled out and submitted the required public speaker's card. But when she showed up to the council chambers on Monday morning, Mayor Mike Rawlings and his colleagues were nowhere to be found. She never got her turn at the mic.
So, Triche is now suing Mayor Rawlings and each of his 14 colleagues on the council in federal court, alleging that they violated her civil rights by denying her the right to speak.
She explains in a hand-written complaint filed yesterday:
When Ms. Triche arrived, security informed her that the meeting had just adjourned. Ms. Triche asked what time would they return and security responded that they would not return the meeting was adjourned. Ms. Triche asked the city secretary's office. ... They said the meeting was adjourned. Ms. Triche requested that the mayor and some of the council members return to the briefing room so she could speak. They denied this request.
There are a couple of holes in Triche's story. For one, the open mic sessions are held at the council briefings and meetings that are held on Wednesdays. Mondays are reserved for committee meetings, which do not include a dedicated public forum.
Then there's the fact that the City Council didn't meet this week. We're not sure exactly when its meetings were canceled, but it was far enough in advance to be printed on the official city calendar.
In other words, Triche is suing the city for not giving her a chance to speak at a meeting that never happened.
Before you dismiss Triche's complaint as frivolous, keep in mind that a similar lawsuit she filed in 2011 (this one regarding a meeting that actually happened) is still working its way through federal court and demanding at least some attention from the city attorney's office. So, it's not impossible that Triche's new filing will wind up costing the city time and money.