We the People Were Heard

@bagarad (11807)
Paso Robles, California
July 25, 2012 12:49am CST
This morning I went back to the County Board of Supervisors with my husband. Both of us planned to speak out on a proposed ordinance that was being scheduled for a hearing next month (on my husband's birthday, no less.) Both of us saw this ordinance as a threat to First Amendment rights, as it would require any person or group that wanted to demonstrate, solicit funds, speak, pass out flyers, set up a booth, etc. on county property to get a permit (with a fee) first. This would have given a director or director's employee the authority to decide who would get a permit. The fee might also prevent people who couldn't afford it from exercising their constitutional rights under the first amendment. One really astute commenter at the meeting pointed out that this proposed ordinance was a solution without a problem needing a solution. My hubby got the first round of applause with his brief statement of his experience coming from a Communist country that had such limitations on free speech, and he pleaded with the board not to let this happen in our county. (They shushed the applause and asked people not to applaud in the interests of time. ) My husband didn't realize that the whole meeting was televised and he was recorded, as we all were. In the end, the supervisors listened to the people -- about 30 of us-- who asked them to kill this or redo it instead of putting it forward for a hearing. They sent it back to the drawing board, and all supervisors agreed they needed to more clearly see that the solution was more in keeping with solving a real problem. Most of us could see the reason for requiring a permit for a large group that might require extra county personnel. Almost no one saw the need for a few individuals to get a permit. The proposed penalty for violating this proposed ordinance was to be up to a $500 fine or jail time. We glad we went and that our speaking out actually was heard this time. Normally we are ignored.
7 people like this
11 responses
@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
25 Jul 12
Cool, congratulations! I'm so surprised that they actually listened to the people. Usually they pass what they want and then the citizens have to take them to court if it's a violation of their rights. Where is your husband from? What does he think of where the country is going these days?
2 people like this
@peavey (16487)
• United States
25 Jul 12
It's great to hear when things actually work the way they're supposed to in this country! I think that too many times people give up without a fight because they don't think they'll be listened to. Your last line "Normally we are ignored" speaks volumes, as they say. I think that keeping our freedoms comes from victories such as these. A little here, a little there, a few more over there and our nation is stronger and safer from tyranny for it.
2 people like this
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
You're right. We don't win all our battles, but we must continue to fight them and urge others to get involved. And we all need to speak out when anyone's rights are threatened, since by the time our own axes are being gored, it may be too late. We all need to help each other.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
25 Jul 12
Sounds like a success! That's great! Just goes to show that if we don't speak up...even if we are sometimes ignored, we will never be heard.
2 people like this
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
I think it really helped that even those who normally have opposing viewpoints all united to oppose thihs.
@drannhh (15211)
• United States
25 Jul 12
Doesn't that just feel good? Thanks for sharing your success. It is often worth trying even though we know the outcome is not always what we hope for.
2 people like this
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
It did feel good, since we win so few of these battles. I'm sure this will pop up again after they make it less obnoxious, so we will continue to watch for it.
@inertia4 (27605)
• United States
25 Jul 12
It's good to hear that the people still have some power left in this country. I think that was a stupid proposal by the county. This is a free country and everyone has the right to demonstrate, pass out flyers, etc... We should never give up that right as citizens. I do and would not agree to getting a permit and paying for it and I would never tolerate paying a fine for something that is my free right as a citizen. Those permits would only be good for lets say, a film company coming into town to film a movie or documentary. Or for some kind of musical event. But not for regular people that want to rally against something. But it does sound like you got your points across. And a win for now.
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
I'm sure that permits will still need to be obtained if large groups of people hold planned demonstrations that require extra presence from law enforcement, and I'm pretty sure they will have to put up portable toilets, as well, for obvious reasons. I can see the sense in that. But if one or two people want to pass out flyers or some poor person wants to stand there with an "I'll work for food" sign, it won't have an adverse effect on the public. We wil see a modified ordinance proposed later, I believe, and we'll be watching to see if it addresses our concerns.
1 person likes this
@inertia4 (27605)
• United States
16 Aug 12
I hope you get what you want. I see nothing wrong with people handing out flyers and asking for money for food. Since this country has become rich and poor, they eliminated the middle class. It makes sense for people to look for money. If I were a millionaire, I would give these people money. But I'm not and have nothing myself. I even have an evil ex who is looking to take my disability away from me. So the world is full of nasty people. Again, I hope you get your concerns addressed in your favor.
@carmelanirel (20979)
• United States
25 Jul 12
Good for him... So now that he was heard, do you think they will give up on this permit idea? I hope so...
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
We hope they will give up, but they will probably define the problem better and come back with another proposal to try to address what they perceive the problem to be. The county administrator who thought this up has just retired and a new one is now in charge. The old one admitted the proposed ordinance was written to try to prevent a recurrence of Occupy Wall Street's extended campout in front of the courthouse. I never saw many of them at once and as far as I know they never hurt anyone, but maybe they did violate some public hygiene laws. In any case, that can be addressed separately. We will be watching to see if some modified version of this law pops up again.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Jul 12
It's probably the governments way of trying to control the people, which is wrong and why the pilgrims left to this world in the first place, so they are not under strict control without their voice heard..
@KrauseHome (35026)
• United States
27 Aug 12
Personally when it comes to Freedom of Speech on a topic such as this, a lot of times there are people out there who are trying to make it harder to be able to say anything and try and charge money, etc. It really Stops and makes you wonder about our rights and Freedoms. Glad they were willing to listen to you and things worked out. Made for a Good reason you said something.
1 person likes this
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
19 Sep 12
Sorry for the late response. I don't think I got a notification of your comment. If you look carefully, you might notice that the same people who will go to any lengths to protect the right to burn the American flag or produce art that mocks Christianity have made "hate speech" or language that might offend "someone" illegal. They do not want to protect the rights of those who produced the video that supposedly sparked the current conflict in the Middle East. (Not that I support what's in the video, which I've never seen.) The administration seemed almost apologetic when they told the Moslem leaders that they couldn't keep the video from being made because of the First Amendment. It left me with the feeling they would love to be able to censor our free speech and probably will if given another four years.
@flowerchilde (12520)
• United States
25 Jul 12
Good for you! And I was glad to see you will be keeping an eye out for them to try again once things settle down, as I think this is just about always what happens, and when folks are not vigilant a tiny few get to dictate over others what may or may not be done.
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
26 Jul 12
I'm wondering what would happen if that hearing room were routinely full of voters speaking their minds and holding officials accountable. When only two or three people show up, the supervisors don't pay much attention. On this last issue, both liberals and conservatives took the same position.
@savypat (20247)
• United States
25 Jul 12
I am glad that you are making these discussions. Many people in the USA don't realize that if you make the effort and take the time you can influence at least your local government and sometimes even the national government, if the issue is of national interest and the press picks it up. Glad you hare having some success.
1 person likes this
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
Our system of government just doesn't work if we don't hold our officials' feet to the fire. If they don't think we care enough to speak out, they will do as they please. The time to speak out is before they make a ruling.
@BarBaraPrz (19629)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
25 Jul 12
The Quebec government imposed such a law recently in response to the student protests... I don't think anybody's paying it any mind, though.
1 person likes this
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
It's quite possible that laws like this might be selectively enforced, and that's not good either, since the officials would be able to choose whom to prosecute.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (98247)
• United States
25 Jul 12
This is a good example of why we need to keep on exercising our rights.
1 person likes this
@bagarad (11807)
• Paso Robles, California
25 Jul 12
So right you are. These meetings are certainly not convenient to attend. We have to travel thirty miles each way to the county seat, so we try to do our Costco shopping afterwards and eat lunch out at a restaurant we don't have up here. That makes it more tolerable and saves gas. I wish this board did not meet so frequently, since it means doing homework to get ready and getting up way before my normal bedtime. It also blows an entire day. Some members of our group also go to the meetings of the regional boards (unelected) and planning commissions to fight their proposed policies. It's a never ending job and lots of people are needed for the fight.