Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Free Speech Victory for Signs & Criticism at SF City Hall

I am my own ACLU.

The City Attorney's reply to my complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force regarding attempts by members of the Ethics Commission on Sept 26 to infringe upon my First Amendment rights contains a resounding victory for free speech at San Francisco's City Hall.

From the City Attorney:

"Nor was there a violation of Section 67.15(d), which prohibits a policy body from abridging or prohibiting 'public criticism' of that policy body. There was no violation of this provision because the Commissioners' communications with Mr. Petrelis during his public comment did not prohibit or abridge any criticism of the Ethics Commission, but rather, exclusively concerned the fact that Mr. Petrelis was holding up a sign in support of his election to the BART Board.

"Finally, there was no violation of Section 67.21 because Mr. Petrelis did not make a public records request to [City Attorney] Dennis Herrera or anyone in his office during his general public comment.

"Even if Mr. Petrelis had done so, there still was no violation because the City Attorney's Office was not and is not in possession of a written policy prohibiting political signs in hearing rooms, other than the policies already provided to Mr. Petrelis by the Sheriff."

I've emailed Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and her chief of staff Eileen Hirst three times, asking them to instruct in writing all commission chairs, the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and all of her deputies to respect my First Amendment rights.

Regardless of what my sign says or what words and names I wish to speak during public comment, there must be a clear and consistent protection of free expression.

No more attempts by the Board of Supervisors, the Clerk and various commission bosses to stifle the public's verbal and visual expression rights, is what Sheriff Hennessy needs to put in writing today. 

The police commission meets today at 5:30 pm and I intend to take full advantage of the First Amendment - without intimidation by the commission chairwoman or any law enforcement officer.

1 comment:

Rusty said...

Congratulations, Michael ! Thanks for keeping the totalitarian element of our city government under control.