Monday, June 18, 2012

Ordinance on Uses of County Properties 9 AM Tuesday At Humboldt Co. Courthouse

Dear Board of Supervisors,

I write regarding this Item on Tuesday's agenda:
H. DEPARTMENT REPORTS
County Administrative Office
RECOMMENDATION: That the Board of Supervisors receive a report from staff on feedback gathered from various stakeholder groups regarding an ordinance on appropriate use of County properties; and provide additional direction to staff as may be warranted.

I have attached the board report, bosagendaitem June 19.pdf.

Not mentioned in the report is that David Kahn, of Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP has filed the Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Opposition to Plaintiff Janelle Egger's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. This response was authorized by the Board of in closed session on June 5th.

The motion asked the Court to enjoin the County, the District Attorney, Sheriff Downey and Interim Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham, their agents and employees from enforcing the ordinance, instituting or continuing legal proceedings related to arrests under the ordinance, or enacting a countywide ordinance until a final court ruling in the case. The hearing on the motion is set for July 6th.

The lawsuit, among other things, asks the court to declare the ordinance unconstitutional or invalidating those portions that restrict First Amendment rights and to monitor the planned enactment of a countywide ordinance. I filed the lawsuit because I felt the County had erred and thought it best to clear the slate and begin with an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the County. It is a legal question, and the answer is necessary to provide guidance during any political discussion of regulation of county property that could impact First Amendment rights.

Mr. Smith-Hanes' board report (at p. 4) contains information on the past Financial Impact of the potential ordinance in terms of his time. It does not include information on the cost of drafting the current ordinance, the potential costs of defending the constitutional challenge and/or amending the current ordinance or crafting a countywide ordinance.

I hope that Mr. Smith-Hanes will in his oral report update the Board and public on the progress in defending the ordinance, as the Court is another agency involved in this process. This is information could not be in the report, for on the day he wrote the report Mr. Yang of Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakeai LLP and I were getting documents to the court to allow them time to respond on behalf of the County.

I commend Mr. Smith-Hanes not taking the easy rode of simply telling the Board what you want to hear, and for presenting the options of beginning the process of repealing this ordinance and spending scarce resources looking for solutions to the issues raised by the various stakeholders he met with. I urge you to adopt those options.

While I understand staff's wish to have clearer guidelines in the future, I suggest the guidelines should focus on guiding staff's response rather than placing regulations or restrictions on citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. As difficult as it may be, that may first require a hard look at the response over the last eight months. May it give birth to a renewed hope and faith in ourselves and our First Amendment principals rather than more rules, regulations and police actions to divide us.

Lastly, I share with you this link to a slideshow, which celebrates the variety of people that have come to the front of the courthouse to assemble and /or express themselves and provides a brief and poignant account of Occupy Eureka. I have also attached a PDF version that allows you to access the sources of the photos found online. I ask that this correspondence and the PDF document, Eureka Courthouse Demonstrations become part of the public record available online.

Sincerely,

janelle

Janelle Egger

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