Supervisors reject anti-free speech ordinance

July 24, 2012


San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Tuesday rejected a proposed ordinance that would have limited free speech and a person’s right to assemble after more than an hour of public speakers objecting to what they called a violation of their constitutional rights.

County Administrator Jim Grant’s proposed ordinance would have made it illegal to demonstrate at county facilities or vacant lands without first paying for and receiving a permit.

Failure to abide by the proposed ordinance was to be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the San Luis Obispo County Jail for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than $500 or by both.

Retired San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Douglas Hilton said he agreed with having an ordinance that barred camping at county facilities, but not the prohibition of assembly or freedom of speech.

“Our constitution allows us to engage in political speech without asking anyone’s permission or paying a fee,” Hilton said. “That is where the ordinance falls short.”

Former Central Coast Congresswoman Andrea Seastrand said she had not seen any big problems that the proposed ordinance would remedy and she asked the board to “Just drop it.”

After listening to public comment, Grant recommended the supervisors pull the item from the consent calendar and send it back to staff to change or drop all together.

The board voted 5-0 to send the ordinance back to staff for reworking.

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How many CCNers does it take to beat a dead horse? This fight is…ovahh!

Good on Andrea Seastrand for speaking up! I wish more GOP had her anti fascist clarity, she ran a great campaign. I am glad to read she is still around and involved she is a neat lady.

Calling the ordinance “anti-free speech” is an editorial opinion and has no place in an article that is promoted as unbiased. The lead paragraph of the story is also a journalistic travesty. Don’t believe me? Talk to any journalism professor at a an accredited journalism department.

On second thought the lead paragraph is not so bad, but the headline certainly is.

Something I find interesting …. During the past weeks I found no articles about this proposed ordinance in the Tribune. For me the only way I heard about it was when Dave Congalton and Karen Veelie discussed it on his show and I read about it on CalCoast News.

Why wouldnt the Trib run this story?

If it wasnt for Cal Coast News and Congalton pushing this story out to the public the ordinance would have stayed under the radar and they may have sneaked it by us.

To Cal Coast news and Dave Congalton a big boquet. To the Tribune a constitutional brickbat.

Agree, Lens. This potential ordinance should have been big news, evidenced by the public turnout. It seems The Tribune is reluctant to print anything controversial. By the time it hits their pages, it’s old news, or it never is printed. I go to CCN for the new news topics, then to TT for a follow-up later in the month. Adam Hill’s advertiser strategy toward CCN should also have been worthy of reporting and easy to validate, but then he was their candidate, so sorry public. It is really a shame.

I was there and i spoke. Grant said he had no intentions of depriving people’s rights? That guy and County council need to go back to civics class. The one lady county council acted like they had done nothing wrong. Well county, you just wasted how many thousands with this stupid deal. Who are these frauds?

The really sad part isn’t that Jim Grant prososed this and spent time writing up, it is that our supervisors, those who are electred to represent the people, didn’t read what Jim wrote and just say “Sorry Jim, this isn’t right and we are not going spend any time on it because it isn’t good for the people who elected us” or such

The problem with that, as Jim Patterson explained after public comment beginning the session, was that this was the first time the supervisors were allowed to discuss the matter together without otherwise violating the Brown Act. It illustrates how formal and involved representative governance is. They can’t sum up and decide things like two people on adjoining barstools. Had to have that transparency we all ask for. All in all, it was a interesting exercise that came to a proper resolution. Not the biggest boondoggle to come along, by a long score.

slomike, There is absolutely no reason Grant could not have put a discussion item on the Board agenda months ago BEFORE spending taxpayer money working on this item. Once something is on the Agenda, a majority of the Board can discuss an issue. To meet the Brown Act, all they had to do was put discussion item on the Agenda. Grant could have floated the idea with the Board along with an outline of what would have been included in the Ordinance. Why did they not do this? Poor management? Or, political excuses?

As far as what was presented Tuesday, County Counsel should have reviewed the Ordinance to verify it was legally defensible. Either: 1. Grant did not have County Counsel review it, 2. County Counsel reviewed it and signed off on a poor piece of legislation, or 3. It was politically motivated and due to the public outcry, the Board ran for cover.

I guess the next logical question would be to ask how many public dollars were spent in staff time and printing costs to develop a 14 page ordinance that went nowhere?

I swear !!!!

Good luck trying to track that info down!

Ask why the item was not placed on the Agenda as a discussion item BEFORE Grant spent money on preparing an Ordinance. This could have been accomplished under the Brown Act.

Ask why County Counsel signed off on such a poorly written piece of legislation.

You make two excellant points dante

Typical bloated bureaucrats wasting untold mh’s on pos ordinances to restrict public rights and expand their ability to cite, fine, and arrest. Lessee what’s on the docket to cut costs and expand services to the public, uh, you know, tax payers.

I happened to be there. Grant said he brought the proposal forward after dealing with the occupy folks and realizing he had no ordinance covering the area they occupied. Stepped up, took responsibility and then recommended not going forward.

slomike, Read my comments above. It would not be surprising that this topic came up during a closed session when discussing a related issue. This may explain why Grant never placed such an idea on the Board agenda before writing it. After seeing the public outcry, the Board ran for cover and protected their political backsides.

I wonder who wrote the damn thing. Seems like the supes know or should find out and give them a spanking for proposing such a crummy assault on our few remaining liberties.

“County Administrator Jim Grant’s proposed ordinance”

It appears JIM GRANT was the author and/or originator.

I would like to see JIM GRANT transfered to SYRIA!

Rumored today that Jim took the fall for someone else since he is retiring soon.

Shame on you for posting hearsay on CCN ! Heavens !

He took the fall for the Board of Supervisors. Grant is no fool. He has been around the block several times. Remember, Grant meets with Board members on the agenda before each hearing. He updates Board members and their Administrative Assistants about what is going on in the County. Please do not be fool by Board members trying to say County staff is to blame; the Board is right there with County staff.

Someone should ask for copies of emails from county staff to Board members related to this topic. Emails are public record -bet you would find Board members were told of this topic and the Tuesday Ordinance contained no surprises.