Supervisors consider ordinance to jail their opponents

July 23, 2012

Stew Jenkins

OPINION By STEW JENKINS

Besides the obvious lack of wisdom inherent in criminalizing someone performing an emergency landing of their airplane or hot air balloon on county owned vacant land, if enacted the ordinance being considered by the Board of Supervisors as their first order of business Tuesday July 24th would infringe basic California Constitutional Rights, as well as U.S. Constitutional rights.

Article I, Sec. 2. (a) of the California Constitution says: Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.

Article I, Sec. 3 of the California Constitution says: (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.

(b) (2) A statute … shall be … narrowly construed if it limits the right of access [and if] adopted after the effective date of this subdivision … shall be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.

The California right to “instruct” public officials is considerably more robust than the mere right to tamely “petition” guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. And in fact the right to instruct was taken out of the original draft of the First Amendment.

The California right to assemble “freely” is more robust than the federal right to “peaceably” assemble; and was in fact designed by the original framers of the California Constitution to protect the right of the people to conduct demonstrations on government land and in government buildings. Several of the framers of the California Constitution had been jailed and banished because they freely assembled before coming to California.

Readers will note that the rights to instruct, petition, and assemble are coupled in Article I, Section 3 (a) with the right of the people to have access to meetings of public bodies in Section 3 (b). And any ordinance limiting those rights must be strictly limited in effect by a court even if it were found to have some legal effect.

The proposed ordinance on Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor’s agenda, making it a misdemeanor in Section 2.11.062 to enter county vacant land and facilities, disturb someone’s use and enjoyment of county facilities, gather, meet, confer, rally or assemble (a word right in both Constitutions) at any county facility or land, display signs, or use any amplifier all violate Article I, Section 2 and 3 of the California Constitution. The ban on camping or staying overnight during such a demonstration or rally, or providing food for demonstrators also infringes these rights.

How the Supervisors would decide to combine these constitutional infringements of the rights of the people with provisions permitting dogs on a leash under six feet in length into the county government center or Board of Supervisors’ chambers begs a very big question. When did it become fashionable for the county to give more respect to a dog walking into the supervisor’s chambers than to citizens gathering to instruct, petition and speak to the county supervisors or other officials?

Stew Jenkins is a San Luis Obispo based attorney know for his civil rights cases.


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Downtown Bob

Unbelievable! How can these people be so ignorant of basic rights! On a comical note, their narcissistic beliefs are evident when they actually believe they can pass a law that will somehow stop an emergency from happening in an airport, then if one does occur and end in a safe landing, the county BOS can claim their “tax” penalty on the unfortunate pilot. Disgusting!


Let this be a lesson, the liberals and progressives are not for more freedom, they are for more rules and control!


hotdog

Jam your lesson. This is about our rights to our land, you ought to keep your partisan nonsense out of it.


Slowerfaster

hotdog, ….You should know by now that fascists always project their true opinions onto their opponents .


Downtown Bob

Well, hotdog, from Global Warming nonsense, air resources board, “smart growth”, to this crap who is trying to take your freedom?


cheseburger

If you can’t read don’t post, the County supervisors, numnuts!


womanwhohasbeenthere

This is a Constitutional issue, and if the BOS passes this, I hope a coalition of people across the political spectrum challenges the county in court over it and win big time! It’s a sad day when we have so many challenges here with business retention, gang crime, the economy, water, land use, the environment, the homeless, etc. etc. and the BOS makes this ridiculous and patently unconstitutional idea its priority, in the summer when most people are on vacation, before Patterson leaves office. Shame on you!


hotdog

I agree with Stew Jenkins and Mike Brennler.


MikeB

In Reference: Introduction of a proposed ordinance amending Title 2, Chapter 2.11 of the County Code to establish provisions regulating the use of facilities and vacant land that are owned or operated by the County. Hearing date set for August 21, 2012. All Districts.


Gentleman:


I am at a loss to understand the rationale behind the proposed ordinance reference above.


Having read the language in the proposed ordinance, I perceive very obvious conflicts with the United States Constitution and the California State Constitution.


I also noticed that certain prohibited behaviors indicated in the proposed ordinance already exist in the California Penal Code.


If this ordinance was spurred by the overnight camping on the courthouse lawn which occurred several months ago then it appears you are trying swat a gnat with a machete.


It seems that an overnight camping ordinance could be crafted without going overboard and suppressing and intimidating the public’s right to free speech and assemblage.


I will add that by incorporating a permit process and fee structure to public assemblage and speech you also invite law suits. Such action would, in my opinion, be akin to rubbing salt in a public wound.


If my memory serves me correctly, didn’t some of you host public assemblage to announce your candidacy for political office. If for example, you were to do that on a weekend, when the courthouse was closed, would such behavior be considered unlawful under the proposed ordinance?


This is a half baked idea and I can’t imagine who among you, would support it.


Respectfully submitted for the record.


Mike Brennler

Atascadero


obispan

Yes it was a result of the Occupation and the county and city’s annoyance, as expressed by the citizens they serve, of that crap (literally!). Machete works for me in the interim. Will wait on the paring-knife solution. A dilly of a pickle if you ask me.


Slowerfaster

Implied violence ?


Tell me how this is civil.


dante0182

Stew, You sued to get the City of San Luis to abide by the Constitution regarding the homeless. Please educate the Board of Supervisors and their County staff about the Constitution. Thanks for your hard work.


Slowerfaster
The Gimlet Eye

“When did it become fashionable for the county to give more respect to a dog walking into the supervisor’s chambers than to citizens gathering to instruct, petition and speak to the county supervisors or other officials?”


Since SLO County became a police state.


dante0182

“When did it become fashionable for the county to give more respect to a dog walking into the supervisor’s chambers than to citizens gathering to instruct, petition and speak to the county supervisors or other officials?”


Since dogs can’t oppose you in an election.


obispan

The dog’s owner is responsible for cleaning up its feces. I never saw the occupy movement cleaning up any of theirs.


Mr. Holly

Looks like another 3-2 vote to me. (Gibson, Patterson and Hill) Can’t really get much worse than this. Makes it pretrty simple to see that there are some people who really do want to take our rights away.


These fellows are definetly the over the Hill gang.


dante0182

The Hill-Bully gang are at it again.


obispan

The BOS may have been mulling the massive costs and hassle of the Occupation of the courthouse lawn for a while. I wouldn’t try to partisan this one, making assumptions about Meachum’s and Texiera’s position on the issue given that any ‘sup can pull it off the consent agenda. Yet they now may. The Occupiers may have snookered the Tea Partiers. To assert that the BOS, or any faction within, has a wild hair to suppress all dissent ignores the issue, as is Mr. Jenkins habit. I’m not thinking the BOS has it in across the board (get it?) for the 1st amendment. How about no fees and some basic rules? Nope. Any rules will be unacceptable to Mr. Jenkins.


Disgusted

Thank you for watching out for the public, Mr. Jenkins.