August 25th Austinites mourn the death of free speech at City Hall after three peaceful citizens had their rights violated by Austin’s Mayor and City Council.
Mayor Leffingwell arbitrarily created a “rule” to limit the number of items a citizen may speak on during a city council meeting.
As they should, many in attendance rejected this usurpation of their rights. As a result, John Bush was banned from City Hall for a year. John Bush and Clay DaFoe are threatening to press criminal and civil charges against the mayor, in his official and personal capacities.
Additionally, City Hall regular, Ronnie Reeeeeeferseed, was banned because the Mayor didn’t care for the way he pronounces his name, even tough Ronnie has been doing this at City Hall for years!
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Aug. 25, 2011
Citizens in outrage over this afternoon’s civil rights violations hold candle light vigil at City Hall to mourn the death of free speech.
What: Candle light vigil outside of city hall to protest free speech abuses by Mayor Leffingwell
Where: City Hall – corner of Caesar Chavez and Lavaca
When: Tonight – Aug. 25 at 9:30 PM
Contact: Heather Fazio 512-825-9142 Heather.Fazio@tagtexas.org
AUSTIN – Mayor Leffingwell may have bit off more than he can chew last Thursday when he decided to institute a rule barring citizens from speaking on more than three items in one given day.
During today’s City Council meeting, three Austinites were denied their right to petetition the government for a redress of grievances by Mayor Lee Leffingwell and City Staff.
Two of them were banned from City Hall for a year.
Local activist, Clay Defoe was refused the opportunity to speak on Agenda items 32 and 70 (both concerning Barton Springs Pool) due to Mayor Leffingwell and the City Attorney misconstruing Sec. 2-5-25 (D) of the City Code which states, “A person, other than a council member, may not participate in removing more than three items from the consent agenda for a single council meeting.”
The City Attorney and Mayor erroneously stated that in addition to not participating in removing an agenda item as the code states, citizens were also to be prevented from speaking on said items. Upon reviewing the code itself, one finds this prohibition is lacking. As this is a government of limited powers, if the city code does not grant the Mayor the ability to limit the number of items a citizen may speak on and the Mayor attempts to do so, he is usurping his authority under the code.
As if Mr. Defoe’s civil right’s violation was not enough, Ronnie Reeferseed, a City Council regular, was silenced by Mayor Leffingwell after Ronnie stated his name in his trademark manner, which involves inhaling while talking.
Ronnie was not only kicked out of the meeting, he was also issued a Criminal Trespass Warning (CTW), which effectively bans him from City Hall for a year.
Joining Ronnie in being removed from City Hall and also banned for a year was local Austin gadfly John Bush. Mr. Bush, not being one to voluntarily waive his rights, was forced to leave after refusing to be silenced as Mayor Leffingwell attempted to prohibit him from speaking on an item which he had signed up to deliver testimony on.
Said John Bush after being banned for a year, “Mayor Leffingwell seems to be in a bad place lately. He has grown increasingly pompous and has begun treating citizens poorly. This latest incident is just more evidence that he is not fit to serve as the Mayor of this community, a community which supports citizen participation in the governing process. It’s only a matter of time before he goes the way of Shady the Clown.”
Both Clay and John as well as Ronnie are considering filing charges of official oppression and filing a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. Mr. Bush also alleged that the sitting clerk at the meeting is guilty of altering the public record and identity theft for changing the public record on behalf of citizens without their knowledge or consent.
Supporters of Clay, Ronnie, and John are calling on the community to join them tonight at 9:30 PM at City Hall, as they mourn the death of free speech in Austin.