Censorship, Public Input & the 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.


#1 Testor15 on 04.19.13 at 1:20 pm

Just because people are elected to an office it does not allow them to make up rules as they feel like it.

There are several in city hall who seem to think because they hold a position they also are not held to legal standards the rest of us must adhere to. So when the elected officials are winging it their employees feel they can wing it also.

I would have loved seeing the council president squirming.

#2 Detroit Lewis on 04.19.13 at 1:28 pm

She wasn’t squirming, but she was a little upset I brought up the word ‘Censorship’. And she made some mocking remark about my ‘1st Amendment’ rights. Whatever. The AL reporter recorded the entire thing with a voice recorder and I guess she is writing an article about it.

#3 rufusx on 04.19.13 at 2:51 pm

Not the only council/mayor in the area that doesn’t understand they operate UNDER the; law-not over it. Would be good if SECOG put together a required educational process for newly elected/appointed council-members/mayors. It’s needed.

#4 Testor15 on 04.19.13 at 2:53 pm

Have you noticed how our city leadership and employees degrade us. Whenever we citizens question their positions on any issue, they don’t work with us but instead stomp on us.

#5 Helga on 04.19.13 at 4:12 pm

Nice job. You would have made a good school board member.

#6 Dukembe on 04.19.13 at 8:56 pm

I disagree with you on a lot of issues you post, but I like how you call things how you see them. Kudos, buddy.

#7 Detroit Lewis on 04.19.13 at 10:17 pm

Duk, thanks, BTW, good luck with the new job 🙂

#8 pathloss on 04.22.13 at 1:15 pm

Who voted for Urpbucket anyway. Woman, get thee to the nunery.