Fear and loathing spur UC regents’ venue swap

November 28, 2011

Four separate University of California campuses hosted regents today as the board attempted to meet without worrying about threatened violent protests. Earlier this month, a scheduled regents meeting at Berkeley was cancelled. [Sacramento Bee]

A teleconference connected regents from the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Davis and Merced campuses.

So-called “rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers” were poised to disrupt the meeting, according to information about “credible threats” provided to board officials by unidentified law enforcement agencies. No individuals or groups that might pose a threat have been identified.

Regents are seeking $2.8 billion from the state next year. A union-backed group, Refund America, wants regents to back a tax hike to help bolster public university budgets and planned to provide busloads of protesters.

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I agree, Cicero. The right to freely associate and to peaceably assemble is at stake, here. One of the express intentions of the organizers of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement was to show the country the increasing propensity of law enforcement agencies to initiate violence against peaceful protestors. They don’t get the difference between “strength in numbers” and individual instances of violence. They don’t get the difference between protest and violence. They are deluded into thinking that disagreement itself is a crime which can be contained by their own violent and criminal acts. This is a traditionally “masculine” response to winning an argument.

I wonder if the politics of law enforcement would benefit from trying out alternative forms of “enforcement,” such as hiring A LOT more women, and assembling different types of “task forces,” such as people trained to debate until the cows come home; “task forces” whose style of uniform is other than military; “task forces” whose mission is to teach alternative forms of communication, by using drama, music and dance as a form of protest.

Some people, for whatever their reason, can only act or react with violence. They are at a particular point in their evolution. But if you think the majority of human beings would prefer to live violently, I think it’s time for you to get a puppy, or play with a five-year old.

Well said, Cicero. One thing puzzles me, however: “a free public education”?

Yet, the Regents are seeking $2.8 billion from the state next year.

That doesn’t sound “free” to me.

I agree with what you say but now balance all that with it is a crime in this state to disrupt a public meeting or to threaten a public official. This says rogues were planning on disrupting the meeting. That’s apparently all the justification they need to do what they’re doing.

Information that rogues are planning to disrupt? OMG! Members of the public attending, disagreeing, protesting, “insructing”, and petitioning. Sounds like exactly what the California voters reserved as their right to give them control over the Public Officials who work for the public. The only crime reported is the crime of excluding the public from attending the Regent’s meeting in violation of Article 1, Sec. 3 of the Cal. Constitution.

The right to a free public education and the existence of the University of California is actually part of the 1879 California Constitution, which at the very beginning guaranteed the Public’s right to free speech, assembly, information, and petition rights. The Regents seem to think no one in the public will notice that they are ducking the public, and violating the California Constitution.

Article I, Section 3, of the California Constitution goes further than the 1st Amendment to give the Public power to attend government meetings to tell government officials how they should be doing their job (not just tamely email in a petition). Here is the text:

“(a) The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for the common good.

(b)(1) The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.”

In short, the people have a right to come to all the meetings, even if the public officials involved are worried that they have made the people grumpy. In the Federal 1st Amendment, the founders said the people should have a right to “peaceably assemble.” The drafters of the California Constitution substituted out the word “peaceably” with the word “freely” when describing a more robust right to assemble. And instead of just parroting the 1st Amendment, they added in front of the right to petition “the right to instruct their representatives.” The California drafters followed that up with a right for the public to attend meetings of public bodies. Californians have guaranteed themselves direct access to public officials and the public’s business — and their Constitution shows they have reserved the right to be angry during those meetings if the direction or performance of public officials calls forth their anger.

So the question is, when is the last time that the well educated members of the UC Regents have taken the time to read the Constitution that ordained the University and Regents? Maybe the People need to send them back to school.