Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To Whom does the Arizona Capitol belong?

Proposing to buy the buildings back, Jan Brewer's annual budget request reminded us that not long ago, she and the Grover Norquist Republicans dominating the state legislature, sold the Capitol to Wall Street banks.

In the KPHO CBS 5 video clip, Brewer mouthpiece Matt Benson says it is "important that the people of the State of Arizona own their house of government and that is the Arizona State Capitol..."




I have to wonder, however, which people Mr. Benson is thinking about. First, we now know that early buy back will cost Arizona taxpayers substantially more money than was raised in the sale in the first place. Symbolically, Wall Street banks have been given a seriously sweet deal.

To add INSULT to this economic injury, eight Republican members* of the Legislative Council, have voted to constrain the right of Arizona citizens to protest at the Capitol.

Some details of the new regulations are:


Activity on the State Capitol Grounds (including picketing, protesting, speechmaking**, marching, or conducting a vigil, religious service, press conference, luncheon, celebration, entertainment, exhibition, parade, fair, pageant, or any other activity that involves the communication or expression of views or ideas, engaged in by one or more persons) may be conducted only between the hours of 5:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M., and is subject to the following regulations:

1. The Activity must be conducted in a manner that minimizes damage to State property and facilities, protects members of the general public and minimizes disruption of government operation.  Ten (10) feet of undisturbed space around all State buildings must be maintained to allow for ingress and egress. Sound may be amplified only on the House lawn or Senate lawn, and only pursuant to an approved Event Application.  If the official responsible for the control of the House of Representatives wing, the Senate wing or the Legislative Services wing determines that the volume of sound from any Activity on the State Capitol Grounds is disruptive to the conduct of governmental business, the volume must be reduced to a reasonable level.

-----

ALEC Representative Lesko asked about the ease of change of the regulations in the event that unintended consequences are discovered. Braun said it was as easy as "convening a quorum of the Legislative Council." However, he conspicuously omitted mention of PUBLIC NOTICE of a lawful item being placed on the agenda for the meeting of said quorum. There was NO follow up discussion to clarify whether they would be hypothetically making the regulations more stringent or less.

Note that I've highlighted SOME of the subjective language in the newly adopted constraints on protest. Subjectivity gives room to officials for arbitrary and capricious application of the regulations.

Perhaps, when Russell Pearce threw Sal Reza out of the Senate building last year might these regs have allowed someone to suggest to Herr Pearce that it was not a good idea? On the other hand, reference to...
...any other activity that involves the communication or expression of views or ideas, engaged in by one or more persons...
together with
If the official responsible for the control of the House of Representatives wing, the Senate wing or the Legislative Services wing determines that the volume of sound from any Activity on the State Capitol Grounds is disruptive to the conduct of governmental business, the volume must be reduced to a reasonable level.
...could have given Pearce cover for his stupid decision to eject a law-abiding citizen. After all, Senator Biggs(hot) ejected this blogger from a committee hearing in October when he thought ZERO decibels was disruptive. 

Perhaps that sounds absurd. But have any Arizona lawmakers ever done anything during the course of regular business that could reasonably be characterized as blatantly absurd? 

Mr. Braun claimed that these regulations are "defensible and enforceable." I am not so sure.

Sen. David Schapira mentioned, in explaining his NAY vote, that he sees these regs as likely violating the First Amendment Rights of Arizonans. He specifically noted the subjective language and the fact that there are times when legislative business (floor sessions or committee hearings) extends beyond 10pm. He believes it is troubling that one of the only objective standards in the regulations specifically excludes "activity that involves the communication or expression of views or ideas" when some of the most objectionable legislation can be (and in the past actually HAS been) acted on without adequate public scrutiny. Think Alt-Fuels Debacle

I have to wonder what kind of fuss would (will) be stirred up when Occupy Phoenix activists show up and proceed to MIC CHECK a committee hearing during discussion or a vote on a particularly egregious piece of legislation. It's a safe bet that there are already plenty of bills worthy of just such an expression of dissent.

How defensible will it be for an arrogant committee chair to demand removal of such activists/protesters? Will the current GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature be as gracious about being MIC CHECKed as President Obama was? Or will they be outraged and try to surpress dissent like Scott Walker has?

DISSENT is the very purpose of FIRST AMENDMENT protections.

-----

* The eight members of the Legislative Council voting to IMPOSE these NEW CONSTRAINTS on PROTESTS are:


Rep Steve Court R-LD18  
Sen Lori Klein R-Pink Handgun
Rep Debbie Lesko R-ALEC State Chair






Voting NO (did NOT approve of these constraints):


Sen David Schapira D-LD17 (Senate Minority Leader)
Rep Chad Campbell D-LD14 (House Minority Leader)
Rep Albert Hale D-LD2

Not present for this vote:


Sen Linda Gray R-LD10
Sen Leah Landrum Taylor D-LD16
Rep Steve Farley D-LD28



Phone numbers and email addresses are listed at the links. 

We should ask these elected "representatives" WHO OWNS the State Capitol -- in practice -- as well as in legal title and deed.

** Speechifying!

No comments:

Post a Comment