Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓
April 19th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Censorship, SF City Council
After several months of holding it in, I finally let Council Chair Erpenbach and the rest of the council know how I felt about public input and censorship at the council working session yesterday.
I told them that 1st Amendment rights organizations like the National Coalition Against Censorship defend council rules when it comes to public input WITHIN THE LAW. I reminded them what city ordinance was, ’5 Minutes Per Person’ and by not following that ordinance they are in a sense violating city charter and breaking the law. I recommended that in the future it would be unwise to violate this ordinance again because next time there ‘would be consequences.’ I also reminded them that they take a oath of office to uphold the US Constitution, the State Constitution and the City Charter. They are bound by that oath to NOT violate city ordinances. I also told them that they are well within their rights to limit discussion ONCE the discussion has started if someone is being disruptive or even repetative.
I told Michelle she was not being totally truthful when she said Munson limited discussion. While I agreed that he did, he only did it AFTER the discussion had started and if people were being insulting or disruptive. I said,
“He never ONCE sent out an email 24 hours in advance to the council about limiting a discussion that hadn’t even started.”
Michelle mumbled something about MMM giving her latitude on how to run the meetings. I didn’t want to get into a long rant with her about how the MAYOR is the administer of the meetings and it is actually his duty to decide where the public discussion is going-NOT HERS. They seem to be pointing the finger back and forth on this, and it is getting tiresome.
Councilor Dean Karsky asked, “Shouldn’t the council have a set policy on public input?” DEAN! YOU ALREADY DO! It is set in city charter, 5 MINUTES PER PERSON! Follow the ordinance. That is all we are asking of you.
There was some good things that came from the discussion though. There will no longer be a sign up sheet to speak to the council (I never signed that stupid thing anyway). And councilor Jamison suggested that they don’t split the PROs and CONs into two separate groups. He said just let people come up and speak when it is their turn in line.
I hope I was clear enough with the council and especially with Erpenbach. Limiting public discussion will NOT be tolerated in the future.
April 18th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Censorship, SF City Council
Council chair Erpenbach just doesn’t seem to get it. She continues to want to discuss changing public input at the working sessions. Another round on the topic is planned for 4 PM today.
2. Public Input Discussion
Here’s the deal, if you have a problem the 5 minute rule, go before the charter revision commission and ask them to change it, otherwise there is NOTHING to discuss. It is time to DROP it, and follow city ordinance.
April 8th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, County Commission, Minnehaha County
If you believe in any cause, like the right to vote, the right to speak publicly about the government, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Equality, Marijuana legalization, ANYTHING it doesn’t really matter — if you believe the FIRST AMENDMENT is the foundation to our democracy then listen up!
The Minnehaha County Commission is meeting today to discuss the presence of petition gatherers outside the doorway at the County Admin building & Courthouse. Today’s meeting is just for discussion at 1pm, but a formal policy to restrict or ban petitioning could be voted on at the Commission’s weekly meeting tomorrow morning, 9AM in the Commission chambers (courthouse), and that meeting will be open to public input.
The County admin building is frequented by thousands of citizens on a weekly basis, to renew drivers’ licenses, car registration, voter registration, pay fines, file civil claims, and many, many more functions of the government that citizens are entitled. The County Admin building and courthouse are by far the best place to gather petition signatures from registered voters.
The First Amendment guarantees the right to all American citizens to petition the government for redress of grievances. This right is under serious attack at the national and state level, and now today, at our local County level. If we cannot petition the government in a taxpayer-funded town square to refer policies/legislation or propose our own ideas that affect everyone in the community, then our rights to petition the government and peacefully assemble are seriously infringed upon. Our founding fathers decided these rights were so important they put them in the First Amendment of the Constitution along with freedom of speech and religion, and there’s no excuse why these rights should be “restricted” or banned in a public place.
When I collected petition signatures for the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion in 2010, I got about 1-200 signatures each day outside the courthouse. This grassroots effort was successful after 6 months of collecting 33,000 signatures from around the state, and the vast majority of those signatures came from outside the County Admin building in Sioux Falls. The County Admin building in Rapid City was the second most productive location! With out these locations for collecting signatures I seriously doubt there is any real ability to collect enough signatures for statewide initiatives – SD is a rural and spread-out state without a lot of high foot traffic areas, we’re a driving community. I explored every idea, went to so many events, door-to-door, and tried the DMV, the library, the post office and any imaginable public place – and no other place was/is as productive (or appropriate) as the County Admin building. Mind you, it’s also very convenient for citizens to register to vote at the County building to be eligible to sign petitions.
IF YOU CAN HELP SAVE THE VALUABLE RIGHT TO PETITION IN OUR COMMUNITY – PLEASE COME TO THE COUNTY ADMIN BUILDING (WEST DOORS FACING SZECHWANZ) FROM 9:30AM – 12:30PM AND SIGN MY IMPROMPTU PETITION! This petition is a simple statement:
******* I support the right of citizens to gather petition signatures on the County Admin and Courthouse property! *******
My goal is to collect 100 signatures before today’s meeting, and 200 signatures before tomorrows meeting. The impromptu petition has no formal effect but will send a clear message to the County Commissioners.
Here’s a flashback to my 19-year-old self getting started in activism, by collecting petition signatures to put medical marijuana on the ballot! Enjoy!
March 15th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Art, Cartoon, Censorship, Mike Huether
You would think Mike would be used to the hassling by now, but it is all about controlling the message I guess. He has told me several times he doesn’t believe in censorship. Well Mike, what would you call dragging a private citizen into a meeting with you after he posted parody photos of you on his Facebook page? Grow a thicker skin.
JT Nelson talks about his meeting on Facebook;
JT Nelson I’m not going to say much… but let’s just say he didn’t offer me a job, NOR does he find this funny. [walking away with tail between legs].
• So much for being Grand Poo-Ba of the St. Patty’s Day parade. Did he take away your birthday?
JT Nelson Pretty much. I think I’m grounded.
• You’ve stained the family name. I’m thinking JT Jelinkovic will be your new name.
• Hope you charged him for your time.
JT Nelson I thinking about the last name “Timberlake”…. JTT. I like the sound of that. Maybe I’ll run for mayor.
• Well to put it this way in my opinion, he needs to realize he is a public figure and his actions on national tv reflect our community. In other words, when your a public official, don’t be dancing around pointing at people like a teenager on crack. Too bad I can’t find a video of it online.
• I am kind of surprised he didn’t find the humor in it. It was all in fun, and he is probably embarassed because he realized how ridiculous he looked. I noticed it while watching the game too. I hope he wasn’t too tough on you. You are not banished from SF for life, I hope!
Here are a few of my faves
March 11th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Censorship, SF City Council, Sioux Falls
February 21st, 2013 — 1st Amendment, KELO-TV, Media
I was interviewed today for a story, I believe it will air Monday night, 10 PM news, ‘Eye on Kelo-land’ about why people are so rude online. Blogs, FB, etc.
I thought the interview went well. Angela also interviewed a journalism professor and a ‘former’ city councilor. I won’t give the story away . . .
February 7th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Censorship, Media, SF City Council, Sioux Falls
I received a copy of this letter a few days ago. I decided not to post it until now, because I wondered if our local media was going to report it. Besides being sent to AL‘s managing editor, Patrick Lalley, I understand it has also been emailed to KELO-TV. Hey, I am not the news media, but I cannot fathom why they would sit on this letter for over 3 weeks and say nothing of it’s existance. You would think a citizen who has successfully sued the city and beat them in circuit and state supreme court threatens to sue you over other constitutional violations, you would jump. Well, I can kind of understand why the city has been silent, because of legal ramafications, but why has our local media?
This letter is why I asked the question of councilman Staggers this morning about violating city ordinance.
What did I say about our local media being handed stories on a silver platter and doing nothing with them? One more example. The other part that bothers me is the AL constantly getting on the soapbox about free speech and open records and transparency, and when a citizen threatens to sue the city over these very things, they zip their lips, nothing to see here, move along. We have already determined our city council consists of cowards and now we see our local media isn’t very far behind them in that assessment.
CLICK TO ENLARGE
January 31st, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Freedom, SF City Council, Sioux Falls
There has been a little less than a peep from the SF city council since they were chastised for implementing a time limit rule on public testimony during the snowgate special election meeting.
The only thing that has been said is that they will ‘address’ the issue during a work session in March.
Our media has been somewhat quiet about the issue also, except for a short editorial by AL’s editor, Patrick Lalley suggesting we have special meetings for testimony. My suggestion is that the city council just follow city ordinance. No closing of debate unless there is a 2/3 thirds vote by the entire council and allowing 5 minutes per person, per agenda item. Pretty simple.
Heck, when I spoke at the Minnehaha County Commission a few weeks back, they had no time limits, but just asked we ‘keep it brief’. We also had great interaction with the commissioners, in which we asked questions back and forth. They also listened and were split on their decision. I can hardly say that about the city council, that seems to be run by one person, Council Chair Michelle Erpenbach who is getting her marching orders from the Mayor.
There is a rumor floating around that the council is considering revisiting putting public testimony to the end of the meeting.
Where does all of this animosity towards the VOCAL public come from? I told someone the other night that I felt it stems from a certain citizen showing up each week at the council meeting (Tim Stenga) and calling the council and mayor out on their BS. I think it came to a boiling point when the mayor and Stenga had a heated exchange in the parking lot after a meeting (in which Stenga called Mike a ‘Rich Snob’). The council doesn’t want the public telling them how to do their job, and they certainly don’t want to be exposed for lying, or for what they really are, ‘Rich Snobs’.
This pushback is common from people who have something to hide. If the council and mayor were on the up and up, they could care less how many Tim Stengas showed up to the meetings.
Do I think there is rabid corruption going on in city government? Maybe a little, but I attribute it more to incompetent city employees, power hungry city directors and a city council and mayor that are controlled by their own greed and special interests. They just don’t have time for the Tim Stengas of the world. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding. Over 8,000 voters asked for a special election this Spring, and not only did they refuse to hold the election, they limited our testimony. When was the last time Craig Lloyd or any other developer in town had to get over 5,000 valid signatures to receive a TIF or tax funded landscaping? Never.
Who do you think our mayor and city council works for?
As for limiting public testimony, this will eventually blow up in their faces. When government officials on any level thumb their noses at a constitutional right, free speech, they are asking for a backlash. If you think Detroit Lewis and his foot soldiers have decided to give up on this issue, you are sadly mistaken. More to come.
January 13th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Censorship, Media
UPDATE: I see my comment returned after its 24-hour hiatus. Funny how those things work out.
So apparently, the city council needs to listen to the public, but the newspaper and it’s readers do not have to.
I commented on this story, VIA Facebook, and a couple of hours later the comment was deleted from THEIR site, but still exists on my FB Page (Below).
January 12th, 2013 — 1st Amendment, Censorship, Michelle Erpenbach, SF City Council, Sioux Falls, snow removal, Snowgates
A lot of people lately have been asking if Stehly or I are going to file an ethics complaint against council chair Erpenbach for limiting public input. Stehly went as far as going to the Charter Revision Commission meeting to ask them about it (one more reason why these meetings need to be recorded);
Theresa Stehly wants to know what happens if a city councilor violates city ordinance.
For example, she says, what happens if a councilor got a letter from Project T.R.I.M., failed to trim his or her trees, so the city comes out and does it, charges $150, and said councilor never pays?
Stehly proposed this scenario during Thursday’s Charter Revision Commission meeting, and asked whether it would be grounds for an ethics violation.
City Attorney Dave Pfeifle told her city councilors are held to the same standards as other citizens, and failing to trim trees and not paying a fine would be similar to getting a speeding ticket or parking ticket.
“So there’s no recourse there?” Stehly asked.
“They’re treated the same as everyone else,” Pfeifle said.
“Shouldn’t they be held to a higher standard being they’re an elected official?” Stehly asked. “Could I file an ethics violation against someone for breaking city ordinance?”
Pfeifle said she could, but it’s doubtful that would be grounds for an ethics violation.
First, let me clear the air. While several people who were involved in the December 18 council meeting censorship debacle have thrown around the idea of an ethics complaint, we are mostly in agreement; even if Erpenbach was found guilty of an ethics violation, what would be the recourse? There wouldn’t be any, and the council could continue to limit public input. This is bigger then that. The council and council chair need to be STOPPED from ever doing this again. In other words, take the rule book out of their hands and make them follow the existing rules;
30.015 ADDRESSING THE COUNCIL; TIME LIMIT.
(c) Each person addressing the city council shall step up to the microphone in front of the rail, shall give his or her name in an audible tone of voice for the record, and unless further time is granted by the city council, shall be limited to five minutes.
Citizens must decide what will be done to accomplish this. There are MANY avenues we could follow, but one thing is clear, Erpenbach possibly violated city ordinance by limiting public input.
Not sure where it is going from here, but I will assure you, an ethics complaint is definately off the table. Stay tuned.