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Man's Patriot Act concerns forwarded to Pa. lawmakers

October 02, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - For six months, a Waynesboro man has attended Waynesboro Borough Council meetings lobbying for a local resolution opposing the USA Patriot Act on grounds that the act threatens the Bill of Rights.

The council on Wednesday finally agreed to his request - sort of.

Chris Fewell, 27, of 38 W. Fourth St., usually argued his point in long speeches before the council.

Council President Douglas Tengler, at the council's Sept. 3 meeting, told Fewell that he no longer would hear comments on the issue. He said he checked with D. Lloyd Reichard, the borough's lawyer, who told him the council no longer had to give Fewell an audience.

Tengler's remarks drew the ire of Fewell's father, Dale Fewell, who often attended the meetings with his son. He and Tengler had words.

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The elder Fewell said Wednesday that he left that meeting "in a huff."

He said he left the council meeting by paraphrasing Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament from 1765 to 1794, who said that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Chris Fewell followed the meeting with a letter to the council on Sept. 9 saying, "Is it because you believe that speaking about freedom aids the terrorists? Such is the outrageous assertion of (U.S.) Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft. That anyone could believe this idea defies logic. If the terrorists are against freedom we must do everything in our power to defend freedom - such as pass resolutions to reassert the Bill of Rights ... When the decision to crush free speech in Waynesboro was made, was there a vote."

The USA Patriot Act, which critics say cuts into basic constitutional rights for all Americans, was signed into law by President Bush in October 2001 following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. National security was given as a reason for the tough new law.

Councilman John Cook, chairman of the council's downtown revitalization and finance committee, told the council Wednesday that the committee met with the Fewells Sept. 22 and is recommending that a letter be sent to U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster on borough stationery saying that there are residents in Waynesboro who have concerns about the Patriot Act.

"It appears to have been passed in haste," Cook said. It looked good at the beginning, but it now seems that 227 years of the U.S. Constitution are being eroded by the act, he said.

"In a large part, we'd still like to see the borough pass a resolution, perhaps even a watered-down one," Dale Fewell said.

Chris Fewell was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

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