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S.C. council denounces Patriot Act

...
S.C. council denounces Patriot Act

<www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2002/November/13/local/stories/02local.htm>

November 13, 2002
By DAN WHITE
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ -- The City Council unanimously denounced parts of the
U.S. Patriot Act on Tuesday, and also asked for a ban on cruise ships
discharging wastewater into the Monterey Bay.
The Patriot Act, passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, boosts
the powers of federal law enforcement to investigate terrorism. It
authorizes house searches, wire tapping and the ability to hold
prisoners indefinitely without judicial review.
Supporters call the federal legislation necessary to curtail further
attacks. Foes call it an attempt to roll back civil liberties.
Activist Valerie Lasciak said the council was the 14th in the nation to
condemn parts of the Patriot Act. Others that have passed
resolutions include Berkeley; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Boulder, Colo.; and
Amherst, Mass.
Lasciak hopes the Santa Cruz resolution, introduced by outgoing
Mayor Christopher Krohn, will have a “snowball effect,” with other
cities following suit. Among the council’s specific concerns: secret
military tribunals, directives limiting compliance to the Freedom of
Information act; and “invasive surveillance” of lawful groups.
Former Mayor Celia Scott said the council has a civic duty to oppose
“federal actions that violate the Constitution.”
Activist Ruth Hunter said it is crucial the city’s leaders stand against
a policy “that encourages snitchers.”
Vice Mayor Emily Reilly said her only surprise, when reading the
resolution, “was it took us so long to do this. ... I was appalled and
frightened by the over-reaching aspects of the Patriot Act.”
The resolutions drew mostly positive audience responses, though two
activists said the council should not have deleted part of the
resolution’s language. The council deleted language stating city
employees or departments, “to the extent legally possible,” should not
cooperate with investigations, interrogations, public or secret arrests
that violate individuals’ civil liberties.
City Attorney John Barisone said the language should be removed
because it gave a specific directive to employees. Instead the
language was changed so it directed concerns toward the federal
government.
Ray Newkirk of Santa Cruz said the city was being “hypocritical” to
pass the resolution after having approved new downtown behavioral
rules that he considers oppressive and stifling of free expression.
Two others in the crowd, Bill Codiga and Tom Mullen, called the
resolution divisive.
Codiga said the council should not pretend to speak for him and
other residents, and that trying to do so compromised his First
Amendment rights. He asked the council to concentrate on traffic
gridlock and downtown crime.
“This demeans the legislative process,” he said.
Mullen said passing a resolution could bring shame to the city if a
terror attack hits close to home.
Councilman Mark Primack, who two months ago abstained from voting
on a council resolution opposing a U.S.-led war on Iraq,
enthusiastically supported this resolution.
In September, he said a city board was not the proper forum for a
foreign-policy decision regarding the Mideast.
But Tuesday, Primack said this Patriot Act resolution is about local
impacts. “We’re all at risk (from a government rollback of civil
liberties).”
He spoke of the act “ushering in an age of intimidation and fear.
Santa Cruz is not exempt from those sentiments.”
He said most local residents wouldn’t mind giving up a little comfort
for their own protection, but “the problem with government is it’s left
in the hands of politicians.”
The resolution asking for a ban on cruise ships discharging waste into
the bay is similar to resolutions passed by the cities of Monterey and
Pacific Grove. The resolution was introduced by Krohn, Reilly and
Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice.
A Princess Cruises ship visited the Monterey area this spring and
voluntarily complied with the no-discharge rule. It is already illegal to
dump raw sewage in sanctuary waters, and the rule is enforced by
the Coast Guard. But environmentalists say bilge and “gray water”
threaten to degrade habitat and water quality while introducing
invasive species.
Kaitlin Gaffney of Ocean Conservancy said cruise-ship discharge is
exempt from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s pollution
rules. When the rules were drafted, she said, “no one was thinking
about 5,000-person cruise ships.”
Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice took issue with people characterizing
such resolutions as “only in Santa Cruz” grandstanding. He said cruise
ship dumping is “so apparently an issue of grave concern for us.”
----------
Contact Dan White at dwhite (at) santa-cruz.com

 
 


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grandstanding

"..two activists said the council should not have deleted part of the resolution’s language. The council deleted language stating city employees or departments, “to the extent legally possible,” should not cooperate with investigations, interrogations, public or secret arrests
that violate individuals’ civil liberties.

City Attorney John Barisone said the language should be removed because it gave a specific directive to employees. Instead the language was changed so it directed concerns toward the federal government."
---
Ohhh, heaven forbid that the SC city council make a bold public declaration that actually has some SUBSTANCE. What a bunch of wankers! All talk and no action, as usual. In fact here they even specifically back down from the idea of action. That original language which was deleted, would have finally earned some respect from me. But now that it's removed, the rest really is just hot air. What's the point?!

-Van
 

And what about our own Poor-As-2nd-Class Citizens Acts?

It would be interesting to see our own local equivalents of the Patriot Act exposed and removed. While action by Green Party activists and homeless advocates seems to have lessened overt intimidating surveillance of Downtown-for-All's "Merry Mondays" at Cooper and Pacific (at least by uniformed police officers), there is still an overt close-to-explicit attack on the civil liberties of poor people, street performers, and political activists downtown.

Police are given extraordinary discresionary powers to warn, cite, and arrest people--most likely to be poor people--for sitting on the sidewalk, on the cement lips of low-lying planter edges, congregating on ("blocking") the sidewalk, leaving "unattended" property. The new rubber stamp for Sgt. Baker and Sgt. MacPhillips police squads downtown has also much reduced the amount of music on the mall and targeted artists displaying their artwork. One poor pregnant woman has gotten two tickets for sitting with a panhandling sign after dark (it's illegal to sit with a sign soliciting, and it's illegal to show a sign after dark under the Reilly-Porter ordinances).

Good testimony on the issue can be found by watching Channel 25 at 1 PM on Saturday November 16th when Community TV replays the Citizens Police Review Board's Oct. 14th long public meeting with two hours of testimony backing up concerns expressed and ignored at the Reilly-Porter Downtown Problems Committee this summer (police harassment and selective enforcement).

A supposedly public meeting of the Downtown Issues Working Group (which is a joint subcommittee of the City Council and Downtown Commission headed by Reilly and Porter) meets 4-6 PM Tuesday November 19th at the ABC Room of the Civic Auditorium. Vice-Mayor Reilly's # for more info on the subject is 420-5022; the staff member assigned is Martin Bernal at 420-5010.

Two days later (Thursday November 21st) the Downtown Commission meets at 8:30 am at City Council chambers to once again follow the Reilly-Porter orders to clean up the Downtown Ordinances so the City isn't further embarrasssed with activista and street performers crammed into 5% of the public sidewalk on January 15th when the delayed remainder of the Downtown Ordinances go into effect.

I was literally arrested and removed from the last meeting of this group for declining to turn off a small tape recorder while making a tape for Free Radio Santa Cruz. [See early November indymedia posting "Porter Busts Norse for Recording Meeting".]

Additionally, several years ago (and I suspect the practice continues) police were regularly stopping youth, interrogating, and ID-photoing them. Are these photos now a part of files, even though no crimes were committed?

The Citizens Police Review Board [CPRB] meets Monday November 18th at 5:30 PM at 915 Cedar Street (NOT at City Council chambers as usual) where it will discuss why Chief Belcher has for a year delayed giving out publicly what the policy is for use of force, what happened in the summer of 2001 with the fatal police shooting of the bank robber parked in the Radio Shack parking lot near Soquel (did he ever actually fire a fatal shot?), as well as other issues.

Activist Sherry Conable's resolution to the CPRB comes up next month at the December meeting of the CPRB which asks for an end to certain sections of the Downtown Ordinances and seeks a clear policy against selective enforcement.

Get up, stand up, speak out for your rights and those of others!
 

More empty symbolism

I agree with Van. When I first heard about the plans for the latest resolutions, I was impressed by the news that they would include specific instructions to city employees about how to perform in the spirit of the resolutions. My main issue with city resolutions is that they give the illusion of political consensus (when no such consensus may exist) on issues over which the council has no proper effect or control. On the other hand, resolutions that actually commit the city to acting locally to address the local problems inherent in a particular state or federal issue make sense. Originally, the latest resolutions promised to be proclamations of the latter type, but they appear to have been eviscerated into more empty symbolism.

The individual members of the Council or the Board of Supervisors are free to rally political support for any issue on their own time, in their own names, and with their own resources. I would be proud to join forces with such grassroots organizations. To spend government time and resources taken from the people via taxes to pass resolutions of no practical effect on non-local issues, however, seems irresponsible. I am disappointed that our elected bodies choose to act in this manner, even though I agree with many of the sentiments they have expressed.
 

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