Why vote against public participation?

August 30, 2014
Kevin Rice

Kevin Rice

OPINION By KEVIN RICE

Why did Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian vote against citizen speech at public meetings? On Wednesday, AB 194 (Nora Campos, D-San Jose) cleared both State Congress houses and now moves toward Governor Brown’s desk, but not with support from Katcho.

AB 194 amends the Brown Act to end several long-standing abuses and denials of citizens’ right to be heard by local elected officials. Of local significance, AB 194 ends the practice of requiring members of the public to sign up to speak prior to the start of a meeting or agenda item. This practice has been used by our San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to limit public input and criticism.

Another common local practice ended by AB 194 requires citizens to speak at the beginning of a meeting or prior to presentations by staff, preventing comment after specifics are made public.

AB 194 explicitly permits criticism of public employees and how they do their jobs. Despite two federal court rulings upholding the First Amendment, many local agencies continue to prohibit criticism of their employees (while welcoming praise). Viewpoint discrimination—denying or limiting comment based upon disapproval of the speaker’s views—is prohibited. And, AB 194 protects citizens from having their speaking time reduced by interruptions from the governing body chair, or for time spent translating comments into English (for non-English speakers).

What was Katcho thinking in voting against AB 194? Call Governor Brown and ask him to sign AB 194 into law. AB 194 is supported by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the ACLU and Californians Aware.


26 Comments

  1. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    By now everyone should know Katcho is a weakling going with whomever he last speaks with

    He supported the car tax, he opposed the Measure B eliminating binding arbitration in SLO city; he abstained from voting on AB 155 (Alejo) mandating a union-only workforce on a project in Monterey County that sets a dangerous precedent for union-only labor on many other projects – and he is CHAIRMAN of that committee – he seems to enjoy the kudos from his friends in the Capitol to his duty to represent his constituents. He caves in constantly to pressure from Democrats and considers himself a bi-partisan boy wonder. Meanwhile he leaves his constituents in the dirt. Glad he’s term-limited out in two years! Remember this if he endorses anyone – it’s the kiss of death in my book!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  2. fishing village says:

    Because if one group, in our County LO folks, come to every meeting and want to dominate, take over the public comment period (I don’t go any longer), it ruins it for the rest of us!
    The chair needs to keep the meeting in order, you can’t listen all day to public comment. There is other work to do to run the County. I oppose 194

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9

    • Kevin Rice says:

      Will there ya go. Citizens for censorship. Wait till the other side gets in power, fv; then we’ll see where you stand.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9

    • Dan Carp says:

      How can you take over the public comment period when that’s what public comment is for? Maybe the public doesn’t feel listened to if that many people continue to show up? As elected leaders(by the public) we should embrace this part of our democratic process……If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!!!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

      • topper01 says:

        Let me know which public meeting your going to next. I have a two and a half hour speech prepared – I could drag that out to 3 hours if the occasion requires.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  3. individual says:

    To paraphrase Katcho, I am for transparency but not if I am transparent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

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