Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

Does a private business have a 1st Amendment right to paint a mural on their property?

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Mural image; Argus Leader Media

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As a commenter pointed out, the irony of code enforcement cracking down on a private business for painting a mural, but allowing students to paint on publicly owned property their religious beliefs and being protected by a ‘disclaimer’ is a bit hypocritical. Could the business owner put a ‘disclaimer’ on the mural to exempt themselves from city code? Besides, the US Constitution is the highest law of the land, it trumps city charter.

Food for thought.

The Jesus Plows are back!

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Lutheran School’s ode to fish and Jesus.

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While stating you are ‘Christ the King’ school is not an issue, the Cross to the far left may be.

You sometimes wonder what part of the US Constitution government officials don’t understand when it comes to the 1st Amendment? Thomas Jefferson made it clear;

Jefferson’s metaphor of a wall of separation has been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Reynolds v. United States (1879) the Court wrote that Jefferson’s comments “may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment.” In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state.”

Many have argued against it, like our city attorney and mayor, but they are hardly our founding fathers who formed our democracy and wrote our bill of rights and constitution. The separation of government and religion is there to protect all of us, not just Christians.

The sad part of this is that after already being warned that this was not a good practice, the city relies on a disclaimer that is too small to read as a snow plow comes flying by with Jesus painted on the front. It just doesn’t pass the smell test. Why not just implement a policy that is simple;

Schools are discouraged of painting words or symbols on government owned property that promote a certain religion or sect. For example; Star of David, Muslim moon or the the Christian cross. If a school is not willing to abide by those rules, their ‘artwork’ will be painted over.

Wow! How simple is that?

For the record, I don’t have an issue with the Christian schools painting ‘God’ on the snowplows, that is a general term that doesn’t refer to a particular religion and well within 1st Amendment rights. Other words such as ‘faith’ or ‘spirituality’ are also acceptable.

Government property should not be used to promote a certain religion. Period. Many great societies immigrated to our country to rid themselves of religious persecution. They were tired of government telling them how to worship, or to worship at all. With freedom of religion, comes freedom from religion. Government has no place in it, and our Mayor, City Attorney and Public Works department should not allow it on government property.

The Village Idiot calls Stehly a Lone Wolf

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Since I have been writing this blog, I have been a strong advocate for open government, transparency and 1st Amendment free speech rights. I think you all know that. We may not always agree on what people have to say, but we have that right.

Theresa defended that Tuesday afternoon.

But to call Theresa a ‘Lone Wolf’ is the furthest thing from the truth. She has formed coalitions in every political activity she has been involved with. She has embraced the community and worked for them. It is no secret why Theresa is sitting on the council, because of her community involvement and sticking up for the little guy. I would call her ‘Mother Wolf’ before I would ever call her ‘Lone Wolf’.

Gawd, Rex, what the heck is wrong with you? Seriously Dude?!

Ironically, while everyone wants to blame her for the ‘drama’ if Rolfing would have just let her speak and not gaveled her (there was NOTHING confidential in what she was saying) there would have been no drama. And the chickensh*t council just sat there and let it happen. Wow!

As a citizen we have a right to transparency, the Argus Leader is in the middle of a lawsuit right now with the city over it. We talk often about transparency in our government, we get no where.

I know about the charges lobbed at Theresa (a butt hurt Chief of Police and moving chairs around Carnegie because of the 911 aniversary), they are petty, in fact not even worthy of blogging about, or an ethics charge, just prattle from perfect hair Mike.

This of course is NOT over, chickensh*ts and idiots get emboldened when they are embarrassed. They have there resources, and we have ours. You want a fight on transparency? You are going to get it. You are going to lose, big time.

First off, props to Cameraman Bruce and our credit on the video. Our cameras are always rolling.

Bully Council Chair Rex Rolfing gets handed his A . .

If I were to say I haven’t known about what has been going on for awhile, I would be lying. In fact, I’ve known about this kind of (council) intimidation well before Huether even took office. When councilor Kevin Kavanaugh threatened to press charges against then mayor Munson who was running for a second term over middle of the night contract deal on Phillips to the Falls, he was brow beat by a group of ‘concerned citizens’ to back off. He did.

Since then, when councilors don’t play ‘reindeer games’ they get bullied and beat up. Theresa is just the latest casualty, but she wants this kind of intimidation to end;

“I have been bullied, intimidated and threatened. … I have been told not to talk to the media. I have been told not to advocate for the citizens,” she said while reading from a prepared statement.

As I have stated, elected officials are legally guaranteed by the US Constitution to 1st Amendment rights. In other words as long as they are not telling the public or the media about confidential contracts or voting on items they speak about (conflicts of interest), they are free to speak about the issues. When they use their free speech to benefit themselves or to sway votes or meetings, then they are in violation (Federal courts have ruled on this).

As far as I can tell, Stehly has not done any of those things. She has spoken honestly to the public and the media about issues facing our community. She has NOT used her speech to benefit herself or others. She is for transparency, period.

Councilor Rolfing & Mayor Huether are planning changes to public input

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The key word here is ‘planning’. I warned councilor Rolfing last night in public input that he should be cautious about moving forward on changes because he would have a big fight on his hands.

He supposedly cooked up his proposal in the top secret operations committee meeting in the basement of Carnegie on Tuesday. I am unclear what is all in the proposal, but I heard it involves ‘comment cards’.

The plan is to have each commenter sign in with a comment card and write down the topic they choose to speak about. Then the mayor or Rolfing would sort through the cards and pick the commenters they wish to speak by calling them forward.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

While I am not opposed to signing a sheet to say I will comment (it’s good for the clerk to have the correct spelling of the commenter’s name for the minutes and the record) I am not in favor of being called up like I am in 3rd grade speech class.

Picking and choosing the commenters is a blatant disregard for the spirit of free speech and the 1st Amendment. Elected officials are in place to serve us, not the other way around. I often say if they have a problem with that arrangement, do us all a favor and resign.

As I have reminded the mayor and council in the past, if public input is disruptive or offensive, the commenter can be gaveled at that time and asked to stop or even leave. The chair has that power and I agree with that procedure. Some people do get out of control and can be frivolous.

But picking and choosing who can comment and about what is favoritism and goes against transparency and open government as a whole. Something the mayor absolutely hates with a passion.

I know that some other folks in the media are aware of the proposal and won’t stand for it either.

Like I told Rolfing last night, I welcome the debate about changing public input, bring it on, because you are going to lose, and lose big time, and in the process you are going to look very foolish, if you don’t already.

What is the push behind the transgender ordinance really about?

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The city attorney wants to revisit the ordinance;

City attorneys plan to retract and revise a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected by the city’s anti-discrimination rules.

The City Attorney’s Office unveiled a proposal earlier this year that would put in writing that private employers, landlords and business owners can’t discriminate against someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Councilor Greg Neitzert this week called the proposal “an outrageous infringement on religious freedom” and wanted to know how it would affect private businesses’ bathroom policies. The proposal’s authors now say they want more time to tighten the language.

While Greg may have a point, I see all kinds of other issues with this besides bathrooms and churches. The rumor circling in the halls of city hall is that the city could be eligible for more HUD money if they change the ordinance. Are the consequences of hundreds of lawsuits worth it? And what kind of money are we talking about? As I said before, as the city’s public policy it is a good idea, forcing it onto private employers (especially landlords) could be problematic and may even be a violation of individual constitutional rights. You can’t change your race or gender (very easily anyway) and those are examples of a protected class, it’s easy to tell if they are being discriminated against. Transgender may be more difficult to police and control and as someone said to me the other day, “Kind of looks like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Councilors expect to revisit the issue sooner rather than later, and some are more eager than others. Councilor Michelle Erpenbach said she hopes to see it reintroduced in quick fashion.

“I can’t figure out what you’re going to do to tighten the language because we have to use the words ‘sexual orientation and gender identity,’” she said. “We need it to pass in the most comfortable way possible. But it’s something we absolutely need to pass.”

Comfortable way? There is no comfortable way. I am more in favor of educating the public about the issue before passing more regulations on private industry. When people don’t understand something, their knee jerk reaction is think it is bad, and when you start regulating private citizens to do something they appear as bad, you have not done a very good job of educating them. That’s why it took several years for gay marriage to pass, people first needed to understand it.

I think if the city thinks this is an important thing to pass besides getting more money from the FEDs for housing, then it should go to a public vote. Asking 8-9 individuals to pass such sweeping legislation is unfair.

I also think this is a Red Herring to separate out the conservative councilors, and make them look anti-equality, which couldn’t be further from the truth. If I was on the council, I would excuse myself and refuse to vote on it based on the fact I may be bias because I have gay friends.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Rex Rolfing still delusional about public input

Rex just doesn’t seem to get it, even when it is explained to him in simple terms. Right before the joint Minnehaha County/Sioux Falls City Council meeting, Rex and Commissioner Chair Cindy Heiberger were having a short conversation about public input before the meeting (they were unaware their microphones were hot).

 

For the most part, well over 50% of public input deals with property and individual rights which could effect them financially and their livelihoods.

Some one really needs to sit councilor Rolfing down and explain to him that in a democracy we are all ruled equally, with no special classes. If developers, pipeline builders and railroads are allowed to talk as long as they want about their projects, Joe Smith should be allowed to talk just as long about his garage expansion. Equality is one thing that makes our country great.

Court rules against the Argus in EC siding settlement disclosure

Yesterday on the ‘100 Eyes’ show, Patrick Lalley said they are eagerly awaiting the ruling in their suit against the city. It was filed last Friday.

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Speculation aside, I would expect an appeal. (Full Doc: ex-settle)

Public Input is not broken

Lannister

– Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings written by G.R.R.M

Mayor ‘Lake Diamond’ Mike & his Nitrogenator