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The Coos County Board of Commissioners is trying to stifle free speech

Last updated on March 5, 2023

If you remember back to the Coos County BoC meeting that was adjourned because a bunch of us wouldn’t put masks on, I was the one holding the sign that said, “Mask NAZI’s can piss off!”

Melissa Cribbins didn’t like my sign very much and cried like a little girl in her livestream later that day. Making tyrants cry makes me happy, so I decided to make a sign for the next board meeting, which was being held virtually. The software they were using for the livestream showed the webcam of each attendee. I didn’t have any plans to speak during the meeting, so I thought a sign sitting there throughout the whole meeting would be a good way to protest. This sign read, “Cryin’ Cribbins and RINO Sweet are traitors”.

One of the reasons many on our side are upset at the virtual meetings is because we don’t get to meet face to face with our representatives and tell them how we feel. So much is lost when you can’t look them in the eye. Another nice thing about in person meetings is, you can bring signs even if you don’t plan to speak. This allows you your free speech without disrupting or making the meeting too long. Lots of times, a nice short message on a sign is more effective anyway. There is a reason meme’s are so popular on the internet. They work.

So, I planned to continue my sign campaign at every BoC meeting. On 9/29 Bobbi Brooks, the Business Operations Manager for the BoC, sent out an e-mail stating:

We are using new meeting software for the Board of Commissioner’s meetings, in order to have better security for the meetings. You can pre-register to receive the meeting invite, or you can click on this link after the meeting has started. For best results click on the link from a PC or download the mobile app for Android or iPhones. You mail use the dial in number to listen to the meeting, however dial in participants cannot speak.”

This concerned me, so I wrote back:

Can you elaborate on the security issue that prompted this? I’m a little concerned that those without smartphones or PC’s (primarily the elderly) won’t be able to participate any longer since the call-ins can no longer speak, as they could with the old software.”

Bobbi later replied:

Different entities around the state have had their meetings on Zoom and other platforms “highjacked” because there is little to no control over who can present information.  This new software is more secure and we shouldn’t have to worry about that happening to us.  I am also concerned about those folks who don’t have upgraded technology, but they can still listen to the meeting while it’s happening.  Those people have the option to either upgrade their equipment, or perhaps they can log in at one of the libraries if they want to participate.  We are doing our best to make sure that we provide access to the largest number of people, while still keeping the meeting secure.  Maybe some day soon, we will be able to return to in-person meetings, but this is what we have for now.”

This was interesting to me, since she mentioned “different entities” and did not specify what “highjacked” meant. I had some ideas, but decided to reserve judgement.

Today, 10/5, was the next BoC meeting so I made sure to have a sign ready and be online early to get used to the new software. The old software would let you preview what your webcam was seeing before the meeting began, this one wouldn’t. When the meeting began, I quickly noticed that the only people visible on screen were the three Commissioners. I poked around a bit to make sure it wasn’t just a wrong setting, but found nothing to control my video. It became readily apparent that the new software would not display video from an attendee unless they had been unmuted by person controlling the meeting and were actively speaking. Yup, this shot my sign plan all to hell.

Do you see my issue with this? I suspect that certain Commissioners didn’t like my little form of protest and intentionally chose a piece of software where they could make me not exist. Sure, I could have still asked to have my three minutes to speak, but that’s not the point. We all know that the First Amendment applies to the written word as well as actual speech. By blocking my video during a public meeting, they deprived me of part of this right, whether intentional or not.

This isn’t really about me anyway. At the last in person meeting, several other people had signs as well. Their free speech has been damaged just the same as mine. These people are our representatives. I don’t give a damn whether they like a sign or not, it’s our right to display them in a public forum. If we were still meeting in person they wouldn’t have the right to tell me to put my sign down, block it or take it away from me. Unfortunately, technology now gives them that power. The only right they have is to make sure someone doesn’t actively disrupt the meeting.

Frankly, I’m sick of our “representatives” acting like our parents. You work for us, not the other way around. Get it through your thick despotic skull. Hopefully you all will join me in getting rid of Commissioners Cribbins and Sweet during the next election this spring. Maybe we can replace them with someone that knows their place.

-Matthew Wilbanks (Editor @


  1. Heather Heather October 7, 2021

    Can I suggest that we come up with signage that can be displayed outside of the building? That way they will have to at least walk past it on their way in and out.

  2. Loma Wharton Loma Wharton October 11, 2021

    It’s time to put these Commissioners on Notice, if they don’t start protecting your Rights guaranteed under the Constitution and their Oath of Office, you will sue them personally for damages….PUT THEM ON NOTICE

  3. Ron Wiggins Ron Wiggins October 12, 2021

    Good for you Mathew. Thanks for being unafraid to stand for common sense and freedom. These people don’t have a clue what is coming!!!!!!!!

  4. Jaye Bell Jaye Bell October 24, 2021

    Hi Matt … excellent article. My only comment on it is you did not include getting rid of Bob Main
    1. He researches and buys the computer equipment of all types and Sweet and
    Cribbins simply approve it. ( He reciprocates on their issues. )
    2. MANY examples of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    Regards, JB

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