[Hpn] Santa Cruz violates free speech rights, HUFF homeless activist says

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sun, 10 Sep 2000 23:17:22 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Wed, 6 Sep 2000 from Robert Norse of HUFF

CC REPLIES TO: "Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom" <wmnofstl@cruzio.com>


The following is the third letter to City Council formally complaining of
Brown Act violations.İ This set of violations happened on July 25th.İİ I
drew the attention of City Councilİ to the continuing failure of Mercy
Charities Housing to meet its obligation to have open meetings for its
Advisory Board (though I was unsure if the Board had met).İ

İİİ I also complained of the unagenda-ized merging of Oral Communications
from the Redevelopment Agency with the evening session's regular public
comment period.İ Opportunities for the public to speak have been so
limited with the current City Council that cutting back speakers by half
is a significant reduction of public time, and an illegal one.

İİİ The Mayor's manipulation of Oral Communications time to specifically
deny me an opportunity to speak at the RDA and again the regular session
was a content-based decision which I also made a formal complaint about.

İİİ In spite of attempts by intermediaries who say they have the Mayor's
ear, Mayor Sugar has been unwilling to mediate this issue, discuss it, or
offer any reassurances that his future policies will be any different.

İİİ Accordingly, I have contacted an attorney in Berkeley and some legal
workers in Santa Cruz, who will be preparing a Writ of Mandamus to be
filed before September 11th.İ The City will then presumably be forced to
respond to depositions.

İİİ Since the statute of limitations on these actions is 90 days, not 30
days, as I'd previously believed, I also intend to file a 4th set of
Brown Act violation concerns about events that happened at the June 13th
Council meeting.İ These included the arrest and seizure of David Silva
and the blacklisting of homeless speakers both at the RDA and the Public
Comment periods.

İİİ As usual, if anyone wishes to join in this complaint or has
additional information or concern, please e-mail me or call me at

Robert Norse


309 Cedar PMB #14B

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

August 25, 2000

Santa Cruz City Council

809 Center St.

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Under Section 54960.1 of the Calif. Govt. Code (the Brown Act), I demand
Santa Cruz City Council cure or correct the following violations:

 1. Section 54952(b) may have been violated by the Mercy Charities
    Housing [MCH] Advisory body authorized by City Council in not
    following Brown Act procedures (posted agendas, open meetings). City
    Council at its afternoon session of 1-25-00 authorized the formation
    of this committee. MCH received city funding; Mayor Sugar sits on the
    Advisory Committee, and is a full voting member.

    On 7-27, I filed a formal complaint regarding this body's
    meetings. Since then, MCH has refused to divulge whether it has been
    holding meetings in spite of repeated inquiries. Nor have I received
    any notification from the City Council that Mayor Sugar will no
    longer be participating in this regular Brown Act violation.
    Accordingly I renew my complaint that City Council through its
    participation on this Board is violating Section 54952(B).

 2. During the Redevelopment Agency meeting, Mayor Sugar first postponed
    and then deleted the Oral Communications section . He said that Oral
    Communications for the RDA would be allowed when the meeting resumed
    for the evening session. However the RDA was never reconvened. This
    violated the free speech rights of every one who might have wanted to
    speak at the RDA Oral Communications. This is a violation of

 3. During the evening session, Mayor Sugar announced he would be
    combining Oral Communications for the RDA (which had not been
    reconvened, as mentioned previously) with Oral Communications for the
    regular session.İ This action cut in half the amount of public
    comment time available to the public and so was a clear indication of
    Mayor Sugar's desire to reduce public comment. It might have
    been legal if it were agendized in advance, as required by 54954(a),
    it was not. Hence it violated section 54954(a).

 4. On various occasions in the past, Mayor Sugar had indicated a
    disinclination to allow public comment from me personally,
    interrupting me, cutting me off, closing down the comment period
    before I reached the podium. For example, on June 13th, I was
    literally barred from speaking by name from the RDA Oral
    Communications period and again from the evening session Oral
    Communications period. Normally, the Mayor lists names of speakers at
    the previous meeting who must wait until others have spoken. Only
    June 13th, Mayor Sugar explicitly stated that I (and several others)
    would not be allowed to speak at all.

    On July 25th, I was the only person who indicated a desire to speak
    at the RDA Oral Communications. Mayor Sugar's illegal (because
    unagendized) act combining the RDA and the evening Oral
    Communications periods specifically burdened me because I would then
    only be allowed to speak for one 3-minute period at the illegally
    "combined" period instead of for two 3-minute periods, one at the RDA
    Oral Communications, and one at the evening session. Though past
    violations of the Brown Act where I was personally targeted are
    beyond the statute of limitations, I believe it is clear from that
    series of actions that Mayor Sugar has specifically targeted me. In
    so doing on July 25th, he violated section 549543(a)

    I request the City Council cure or correct the proceeding violations
    within 30 days of this demand.



    Robert Norse


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