It's Back To The Sixteenth Century At City Hall
Emeryville may be perceived as backwards by some residents, city planners or government watchers in general but what most are likely unaware is just how backwards it actually is.
Take the council 'Rules of Proceedure': In section number 5.0 of Resolution #09-249, the rules that govern how to run city council meetings, acceptable citizen behavior is addressed.....or maybe a better word is suppressed. Citizens are advised, when approaching the city council for petition of grievances against their government, to watch out or they may find themselves afoul of the law and arrested.
The extreme anti- democratic and illegal rules contained in Resolution 09-249, adapted by the city council in 2009, have recently been extended to cover all official city committee meetings, expanding City Hall's claim of extra-constitutional faculty.
Section 5.1 B, 4 of the 2009 Resolution clearly states that if a citizen is speaking at the 'public comments' part of a council meeting, they may not direct any comments to the mayor, any particular council member, or even staff member. Instead, all comments must be directed to the government "body" in the aggregate.
How this manifests itself is counter to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution; if a citizen complains that the mayor or the city manager for instance has done a bad job with some particular public policy, that citizen has violated the law and is subject to arrest.
The resolution goes on; Section 5.1 B, 6 makes it an arrestable offence for any citizen to directly ask a question of any single council member or staff member at the council meetings.
In addition to the above two unconstitutional Emeryville laws is Section 5.1 B, 2 which states that all speakers must give their names and addresses before speaking, a direct violation of the Brown Act, Sacramento's 'transperancy in government' act.*
Emeryville Resolution 09-249 provides that citizen violators of the enumerated rules are subject to arrest at the discretion of the presiding officer.
After citizens complained of the government overreach embodied in the resolution in 2009, the council chose to leave intact its illegal provisions and this remains the law of the land today.
Constitution lovers and responsible government champions may be heartened to hear that some citizen prerogative remains in Emeryville and it is still legal to look directly at the council members when addressing them and it's still OK to turn one's back on the council members upon finishing one's speaking.
*Note: This section was revised and has since been rescinded. This correction to the story was made on 4/14. Please read 'correction' story 4/14 -Editor