Citizen statements about impeachment

Prior to yesterday’s unanimous Takoma Park City Council approval of an impeachment resolution, citizens of Takoma Park and neighboring areas made statements to the City Council during the public comment period. A video of the meeting and these statements is available on the Takoma Park web site.

We’ll use this space to publish all statements we get a go-ahead for from the speaker, who we can identify either by his/her full name or his/her initials. (PS: transcribing is time consuming work, and we’d like to get some help transcribing the statements when there’s no prepared electronic file to work with.) Statements are in the same order as at the hearing, and currently include those by Thomas Nephew, Lisa Moscatiello, Jay Levy, Anita Burkam, and Felicia Eberling.

We’ll also use this space for separately prepared statements, such as those delivered by e-mail to the City Council and shared with us; these will be in the order we receive them. So watch this space… there were a lot of good comments.

July 23 Council Hearing Speakers

Thomas Nephew (Birch Avenue)

I’m here to support the impeachment resolution sponsored by Councilman Reuben Snipper.Tonight it seems like momentum is building for impeachment. We’ve heard that Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers is looking for just a few more representatives to endorse an impeachment resolution put forward by Kucinich, and he’ll begin impeachment hearings.

Locally, too, the response to this idea is overwhelmingly positive when we petition or go door to door. On July 4, we got a lot of support – including from Rep. Chris Van Hollen, 202-225-5341, who told parade watchers the Libby commutation was making him consider impeachment, too.

But there have also been questions that deserve answers, including, fundamentally, why bother with this? What good will a city council resolution do?

I think the short answer to “why bother?” is summed up by the question: “what if we don’t even bother?” Among the terrible precedents this administration has set are: the utter sin and crime of torture. A fraudulent case for war. Abrogation of habeas corpus. Warrantless surveillance in direct defiance of specific law. A king-like disregard and contempt for other laws properly passed and signed, and a refusal to enforce them. Each of these are grounds enough for impeachment, and new ones taunt us each day – Libby’s commutation – the US Attorneys scandal (both considered impeachable by James Madison) – executive orders threatening to dispossess Iraq war opponents – refusal to honor congressional subpoenas or enforce contempt citations. Together, they add up to a administration that must be opposed, whose very policy is to flout the Constitution, to make it a dead letter instead of a living guardian of our liberties and the rule of law.

But also, unless we act now, the next administration like this one can take its lawless, amoral, unconstitutional approach as a consensus starting point, instead of a shame on this country and a reproach to its institutions.

That’s where we come in. The first three words of the Constitution are “We, the people.” We “ordain and establish” the Constitution, we are responsible for it. We, here in this room, too. You, our elected leaders, too. While Congress has hesitated discussing this, you have not, and you have my deep gratitude for that.

Tonight we’re proving that ordinary citizens and local elected leaders care deeply about their country, the Constitution, and the rule of law. I hope we’ll do more, and send a clear message to Congress – and to our own great representative, Chris Van Hollen — that they must take up the impeachment of a president and vice president who deserve it more than anyone else in the history of this country.

So thank you all for considering this resolution, and for the opportunity to speak for it. And to all of you who vote for it: I’m sure you’ll have many other important achievements — but I think this may be the finest thing you ever do in public office.

Thank you.

Lisa Moscatiello

I’d like to thank Councilmember Snipper , the rest of the members of the Council and the Mayor for putting this resolution on the agenda. I’d like to talk a little bit about my experience in gathering names, giving out flyers, and getting people to sign petitions. One of the things that struck me as really sad is the number of people who are afraid to sign, who are afraid to put their name down. We had members of the Postal Service who were afraid to sign.

A couple of months ago I went up to Brooklyn, New York to attend the funeral of my Uncle Tony, who grew up in Italy during Mussolini’s reign and who came here to be free from from tyranny. When I told my cousin, his daughter, what I was doing with regard to the resolution, the first thing she said was, “Be careful.” And that just makes me sad that the daughter of this man who came here from a country in which he had lived under tyranny now feels afraid for me to speak out.

Just this past week, the White House issued an executive order that talks about seizing property of people in this country who are suspected of “destabilizing” the situation in Iraq. Because the language is very vague, a lot of people are worried. Arab-Americans have been taken into custody in prisons for several years without being tried. The government can now open your mail, they can wiretap you. The message we have been getting from our President and our government is “We are watching you. We are watching you.” And I just want to commend everyone here tonight, who are all going to be on TV and on the internet, many of us giving our names. Because we are saying We are watching you.”

Jay Levy (Baltimore Ave.)

Good evening, my name is Jay Levy. I live at 7431 Baltimore Avenue and as a 32 year resident of Takoma Park I’d like to congratulate the city council for taking this action tonight.

I don’t come up here to support the resolution because we are in an immoral, illegal, and senseless war. I don’t come before the council to support the resolution because so far it has cost the taxpayers of Takoma Park $25 million, and the Montgomery County taxpayers $2 billion.

I come before the council because America is under threat. It’s a threat to our Contstitution from Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.

Now we’ve already heard of some of the shredding of the Constitution, actions such as habeas corpus, torture; I won’t go into that. What I will go into is my fear for the future. Now takoma Park has always been against guns. If we let these two men get away with what they’ve gotten away with, we will be leaving loaded guns in the White House, in the Oval Office, for the next people that come in. And the wrong kind of people, they could use those guns, all the weapons that Bush and Cheney are using to shred the Constitution, they could use them to go even further. And we must stop them now.

Thank you.

Anita Burkam (Poplar Ave.)

Mayor Porter, members of the Council,
My name is Anita Burkam, I live at 6725 Poplar Ave.
Our federal Constitution, written in 1789, in many ways embodies our national character, what we commonly understand to be “American”—our belief that all citizens are equal under the law and no one is above the law; that we have a right to be secure in our persons and property without fear of government intrusion. For over 200 years, that Constitution and our country have stood as a beacon of democracy to the world. However, in the past six-and-a-half years, the administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney have sought at every turn to deny, undermine, and rewrite our common understanding of what it means to be an American—we are now a country of torture and secret detentions; our government spies on us, its own citizens; our justice system has been perverted to keep Republicans in office and persecute democrats; our president claims far-reaching powers not subject to congressional oversight or subpoena, he pardons his underlings to cover up his own wrongdoing, and he takes the country to war based on lies. This is not the America that I learned about in school; this is not the America I served as a Peace Corps volunteer. A system is only as good as the people executing it, and if Congress will not stand up as a coequal branch of government to act as a check and balance on this executive branch’s lawlessness, corruption, and assumption of monarchical powers, the people must rise up and demand that Congress do its job. I would like to thank the Council for bringing this resolution to impeach the president and vice president to a vote. It’s more than Congress has done so far. Thank you.

Felicia Eberling (Silver Spring)

I heartily agree with Councilmember Reuben Snipper’s impeachment resolution, and I thank Councilmember Seamens for the amendment encouraging Montgomery and the other neighboring counties and cities to join in the impeachment effort.

Not long ago, it seems House Speaker Pelosi said in reference to Congressman Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment against Cheney (HR 333) that in effect, “the constitution is worth fighting for, IF you can win”.

The Speaker can speak for herself, I guess, but I passionately hope that she doesn’t speak for our Congress and Judicial Committee. She certainly doesn’t speak for me — I say to her that our Constitution is worth fighting to MAKE IT WIN, with no “IF” about it.

But then, maybe to our government the Constitution IS “just a piece of paper” — like an election ballot.

I am sick of the American people (and the world) being lied to; our civil liberties chipped away; the fabric of our government unraveled and rubbed in our nose, our economy destroyed; our environment poisoned; and WW III virtually initiated, by our own White House; and on top of that, our elected representatives acting like that is okay by dithering and letting it continue while they sit and play Party games — this resembles too much the 1920s Germany that my parents described growing up in (and later having to flee).

I ask that the City of Takoma Park, by adopting Councilmember Snipper’s resolution, join other municipalities across the nation in setting an example for our U.S. Congress. Congress MUST impeach Vice-President Cheney! They must show the American people in this meaningful way that they will no longer enable a White House that betrays national and global security, breaches the Geneva and related conventions and treaties, erodes our civil liberties, flouts the law and the justice system, and pisses on the United States Constitution.

What will it take to wake our Congress UP?

Thank you.

Michelle Bailey

Separately delivered statements

Nina Falk (Cedar Avenue)

I feel that it is critical for the American people to lead a vigorous campaign for impeaching Bush and Cheney….NOW. I do wish it had started earlier, but it is absolutely not too late. What is vital is for the impeachment to take place alongside the fight for the next administration… for those seeking office to be made to understand that the American people are serious about the Constitution, about Democracy, about our standing abroad, our values, our morals.

It is critical for every candidate for higher office to be clear that we demand a profound change in policies across the board…and we demand a leader who is brave enough to lead. Before the primaries are held, it is important for the impeachment hearings to shape the campaign for the next President, and for the people to be brave enough to remember what rights are theirs and to demand that they be restored.

Impeachment must take place, for the past, the present, and the future. The past, to show that the words of the founding fathers are not forgotten; the present, to show the world that we are awake and we care; and the future, to heal our nation and to regain the respect of the world.

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