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Glenn Beck Limits Press Access for Mt. Vernon Key to City Ceremony; Town Up In Arms

Reported by Alex - September 24, 2009 -

co-authored by Hula

Glenn Beck, known 'round these parts as TV Crybaby, can now add “Chicken” to his credentials, because he has all but banned the media from Saturday’s ceremony when the mayor of Mt. Vernon, Wa., presents him with the key to the city. Initially only one reporter, to be chosen by Mt. Vernon’s Mayor Bud Norris, was to be allowed to cover the event, but after drawing heavy criticism the Mayor now says he “mis-spoke” and that Beck will be allowing a generous FIVE press passes. Meanwhile, many business owners and residents of the town of 32,000 –including the Town Council - are up in arms over the honor being bestowed on Beck by the Mayor.

The sold-out event, publicized as “Welcome Home, Glenn Beck” has drawn a great deal of fire from the locals, who seem less than enamored of their hometown boy. All this week there have been early protestors at the town hall bearing placards saying “Change the locks!”, and there have been fireworks at town council meetings.

Councilman Dale Ragan, who has been a vocal opponent of the award to Beck, spoke today to Newshounds reporter “Hula”:

"Two weeks ago, I attempted to introduce an ordinance, but Mayor Norris, supported by the city attorney, would not let me introduce it. The rules are you have to submit an agenda item 7 days prior to a council meeting. The Mayor cancelled the next week's council meeting, stating there were no agenda items."

However, Ragan says, at last night's meeting the Council unanimously approved a resolution distancing themselves from the Mayor's decision. Dozens of people turned up and presented a petition with over 16,000 names calling for the Mayor to recant the decision giving Glenn Beck, a former resident, the key to the City of Mount Vernon and naming the upcoming day as "Glenn Beck Day".

When asked about the local response to the decision by the Mayor to give Beck the key to the city, Mr Ragan said: "Over the last 2 weeks I have received hundreds of emails, very few in support, and 6 (of 7) council members have declined tickets to the event." Mr. Ragan's sees his role as Councilman as “to try to do what is good for the city of Mount Vernon; it is hard to determine if any measurable good will come from this. This matter has put our city in a bad light.” Indeed, anger is running so high that businesses fear they may lose long-time customers if the event goes ahead.

On the question of media coverage, the City Attorney claims that "This is a ticketed event not open to general public. This is the mayor giving a symbolic key of recognition to a private individual” as if this somehow accounts for the decision to limit press access to an event honoring a man who can hardly be called publicity-shy. However, the Mayor has said that the directive came from representatives of Glenn Beck, who gave no explanation for it.

So Glenn Beck wants to limit press access? Where’s the transparency? Is there something un-American about a free press, Glennie? What are you so afraid of? And while we’re at it, why did you cover the 9/12 protests in Washington, which you helped to instigate and promote, from the cozy cocoon of Fox News studios instead of getting out there and mixing with the “America” you so love to rile up with fear and loathing? Afraid to mix with the hoi-polloi?

The group Skagit Valley Against Hate are organizing a protest on the day of the award. For those of us who can’t be there, here’s a fun question: If you were a local resident or business owner, how would you mark “Glenn Beck Day” in your own unique way? Personally, I'd go for a chicken suit, a box of hankies and a loudhailer.

chicken crossing sm