Thursday, May 08, 2008

Traitors Among Us

"...the construction of 4,000 crosses is considered by most people a political protest against the war and the policies of the current administration. .... The majority of veterans and families find this protest political, and in turn, offensive and disrespectful.

The city has no obligation under the law to provide public lands for political purposes...."

So wrote Harry Berzes (City of Sierra Vista, Parks and Leisure Services Business Administrator) to Parks Director John Startt and City Attorney Stu Fauver in apparent response to a request early this year by area resident Joy Banks to install a temporary display similar to the Veterans for Peace project known as Arlington West. (see attached photo)

At my request City Clerk Jill Adams provided some copies of internal e-mails and documents related to this proposed 3-day use in March of a section of Veterans Memorial Park. The documents supplied do not include any responses by Parks Director Startt or City Attorney Fauver or comments by the City Manager or council members.

When contacted last week Ms Banks was unaware of Mr Berzes' negative comments about her plans. Banks, who proposed to organize the effort in the Sierra Vista park, says she never received a written denial or explanation but was told by City Attorney Fauver that per City Ordinance 94 "political and religious events are not allowed in the park."

Ms Banks provided news clippings from the SV Herald indicating that the city park has been used on numerous occasions by various political and religious groups. She says Fauver told her that such events "must have slipped through the cracks".

How Mr Berzes knows what the majority thinks is not clear but even if correct about the feelings of the majority of persons in Sierra Vista he displays ignorance or disregard for a fundamental tenet of the American way, and the law.

With very few exceptions, the use of public property for any speech or non-violent demonstration must be permitted - even if it offends or inconveniences the government and/or the majority of citizens.

In an April 16 letter to the editor of the SV Herald, which (as of May 7) was not published, Ms Banks cites the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization which includes:

"The privilege of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for communication of views ... may be regulated ... in consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be abridged or denied."

But the city staff has long engaged in illegal practices, concocted a number of unconstitutional ordinances which the city council approved, and effectively stifles free speech, protest, innovation and change in Sierra Vista. They have systematically deprived residents in this area of a most basic civil right - the right to publicly criticize and challenge those in power.

Every City Councilmember took an oath to protect the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Arizona. Perhaps they should review those documents again, and share them with City Manager Potucek, City Attorney Fauver, and the city staff - noting that failure to uphold this oath of office is a definition of treason.

PS. I invite you again to consider the value of an "alternative press".

This e-mail news alerts list has 4,000+ active recipients from the Sierra Vista and/or Cochise County area (or with business/political interest in the area), plus about 400 active journalists and editors in Arizona, the U.S. and Mexico.

If you do not wish to receive it, just let me know. And if you know others who might be interested, please let them - and me - know.

For the Record,

David M Morgan
Investigator, Writer, Publisher
112 N 7th ST
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635 (USA)
(520) 236-4051

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