AG council considers speech restraint

May 23, 2016

AG City Council 6


A verbal joust over the limits of individual free speech looms Tuesday when the Arroyo Grande City Council meets at 6 p.m.

A recent request by one council member to place on a future agenda a discussion about “council communications” suddenly has morphed into a resolution for adoption prepared by City Manager Dianne Thompson and now is set for action.

“All council member correspondence using city resources shall be copied to the full council, the city manager, the city attorney, and the city clerk,” Thompson writes in the resolution. “In addition, all council correspondence to public agencies in which the mayor or council member identifies themselves as such, shall be copied to the full council.”

The proposal probably runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution. In 2009, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court “demonstrate that the First Amendment’s protection of elected officials’ speech is robust and no less strenuous than that afforded to the speech of citizens in general.”

Any vote by a city council body likely would not invalidate the circuit court’s decision.

The so-called communications matter originated with council member Barbara Harmon after she had chastised Mayor Jim Hill for a letter he sent to the Federal Trade Commission. In that letter, Hill outlined his concerns about the lengthy closure of the city’s only full-service grocery store.

City tax coffers have been severely reduced because of the closure. In the past, grocery stores at the site brought in about $2.4 million per month in revenue, making it one of the city’s top five tax revenue generators.

Harmon complained that Hill’s letter “conveyed an official city position.” Harmon also voiced her concerns that members of the public became aware of the letter before she did, and that the letter demonstrated a “lack of transparency.”

Council member Kristen Barneich asked that the issue be agendized to allow a discussion about implementing council policy on letters written by city council members.

Thompson instead drafted the resolution, and the council will now consider a vote on the matter.

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“No need to respond”

At the meeting right now, Councilwoman HARMON is reading again her opinion.

Her rookie attitude is off putting. She is everything those who elected her did not want.

Who is running for Council in November?

2018 can not come soon enough to get rid of Ms. Harmon, talk is that she is going to run for Jim Hill’s seat with no risk of losing her current seat until 2018.

Such a waste of staff and attorney time.

First off, what a moronic stunt to create a “staff report” and resolution based on Council Member Barneich stating “I would like to agendize an item TO DISCUSS implementing a council policy on letters written by City Council Members”? How was that magically interpreted as “create a SEVEN PAGE-LONG agenda item, including a resolution, before any discussion even takes place.”

Secondly, how is it even enforceable? Is Dianne Thompson going to take away the Mayor’s birthday? Give him 50 lashes with a wet noodle? Make him walk the street with a shaming sandwich board around his neck?

The Mayor was elected to lead . . . not follow.

The city council members were elected to follow the needs of the city first and foremost.

This over-the-top chest-thumping political power pull is ridiculous and embarrassing.

All for what? Because the Mayor doesn’t pet certain “self-important” folks around town, and tell them what pretty special flowers they are? Most of these back-patting fake-to-your-face people don’t even LIVE in the city.

If Barbara Harmon or Kristen Barneich wants to be the Mayor, then they need to untwist their diapers, pull papers and step the eff up by running.

Putting an unenforceable (and potentially illegal) gag-order on our Mayor is petty and ignorant. Period.

It is all about just trying to embarrass the mayor by the city manager and 3 council members. Hopefully this fall 2 of those members will be gone and the council can finally became a council that serves the people and a city staff that serves the council instead of the other way around.

Geez…what’s next? Removing chairs from council chambers?????

That was Tony Ferrara’s thing, but I wouldn’t put it past Guthrie, Barneich and Harmon. City Manager Thompson also recently tried to limit public comment on an issue so she might try it.

Remember the “wet paint” signs on the benches outside council chambers?

Nothing says “we welcome community input” more than fresh paint on a high turn-out meeting night.

Tonight was HILARIOUS! They (the city) added chairs, because the room was packed – SRO, really.

If the police weren’t taking 35% of the available room, causing such an overfill and non-compliance of the occupancy number, they (the police!) would have shut us all down.

I promise that barely a year ago BigTony would have shut us down for attending city council meetings..

Instead, the city council had WAY over maximum occupancy, press was sandwiched, police were only there to give/receive accommodations, and no real concern was addressed.

AG? We have a problem.

Focus people. You are paid city officials…..if Barbara wants to publicly expose that she is dumber than a box of rocks so be it. Now focus on the important issues of the day….where oh where are the transgender folk going to be allowed to go to the bathroom. Its the new ADA discussion.

she was a career probation officer. def dum as a post

Lol, So City Manager Dianne Thompson made a new law all by herself? Spontaneously?

What unscheduled meeting are we not hearing about?

How about “All City Manager correspondence shall be copied to the full council, the city attorney, and the city clerk,”

KFB needs to understand the difference between a republic and a democracy. We are a Republic.

The AG City Government is disastrous and dysfunctional! Sad!

Jim Hill has a Sisyphean task against City Manager Thompson and Council Women Harmon an Barneich.

AG is suffering from bad government.

Only one grocery store in town.

A boutique hotel going in at the site of the old JJ’s Market because most of the city pols and administrators are in the pockets of developer Nick Tompkins.

Now a housing development on Ag land is planned by Tompkins at Cherry Ave and Traffic Way that will create a traffic nightmare.

Pay attention AG residents, demand better government before its too late and your city slides irrevocably into suburban sprawl and corruption.

Another reason to send Guthrie and Barneich packing this fall and then we can finally have a conversation about the problems with Thompson and then maybe we should begin a search for a new city manager

Steve Adams is available.

Has good references from King City, including the Police Dept. which preyed on illegal aliens by impounding and selling their cares.

lol. king city pd epitomizes government today.

If you bring Mexico to the USA, you are going to get corrupt Mexican-style police.