Best Political Protest (2005)
Fort Lauderdale city employees'wearing gags
Maybe Alan Silva, Fort Lauderdale's volunteer city manager at the time, didn't actually intend his new policy to become a gag order per se. But it sure looked that way when he decreed in late May that no city employee could talk to the media, neighborhood and civic groups, homeowners or businesses without clearance from above. When the city's communications director, Leslie Backus, then forbade those self-same employees from even commenting on the rule, some of them staged a fitting silent protest at a City Council meeting with stickers reading "employee" over their mouths. Newspapers tend to bristle when their sources are muted, and the local dailies threw fits. The Miami Herald editorialized: "[T]he get-permission-first, speak-with-one-voice policy smacks of party line spin." The president of the police union compared the policy to "Nazi Germany in 1940." Silva lasted eight days before he reversed field, apparently stupefied that he had thrown the city into turmoil. "The idea this was a tremendous change never occurred to me," the Sun-Sentinel quoted Silva as saying. "To compare me to Nazi Germany, my Jesus mercy! I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU."