Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Autry: Free Speech or Loose Lips?

So if you read the Fresno Bee you are familiar with the fact that Fresno City and the ACLU/Homeless came to a settlement agreement regarding the when the City executed raids on the homeless encampments. Well, before the settlement could be finalized Fresno Mayor Alan Autry had to slam it.

In a prepared statement released after the settlement was approved Friday, Autry said the city would comply with Wanger's ruling, but he called on the judge to lower the $750,000 in attorney's fees to be paid by the city. Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union represented the homeless.

"This white-collar exploitation of the homeless by the court and the lawyers is unconscionable," Autry said. "I am calling upon the ACLU and Judge Wanger to require half of the exorbitant fees of $750,000 to be donated to homeless programs."

So when Judge Wanger threatened to kill the settlement and for Autry to come in and explain his statements some people flipped out a bit. They (including Autry) are claiming the First Amendment right. So did someone tell Autry he couldn't talk and I missed it? First off, the First Amendment right doesn't absolve you of taking responsibility for the words you say. Autry, both directly and as part of the city government, is a party to this suit. So his comment upon the settlement is important. Autry is part of the group who negotiated this settlement (not the Judge at all) and then wants to come out and slam it? The court does have to take a step to make sure that no one is strong armed into a settlement so its examination of Autry and his feelings of victimization are reasonable before a settlement is approved. If Autry thinks that this settlement is exploitive maybe HE shouldn't be part of it and take his chances in court.

Then dealing with the First Amendment argument. This was a prepared statement. It isn't like someone over heard him telling a friend or his wife in a restuarant. This was made as the Mayor and therefore it was spoke as being for the City. Autry, you are the mayor. You are paid to represent the people of Fresno in word and deed. You just want to talk in front of the cameras and it not have any bearing? Just wait until you leave office.

Separately, you realize you can be charged with contempt of court? That is an implication of the fact you are supposed to respect it. Accusing it of exploiting people is not respect.

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Rabbi Adam J. Bernay, MRbs said...

I beg to disagree with you. First off, the contempt of court rule is so abused that it is an unconstitutional restraint on speech the judges don't like. Secondly, legal pressure of any kind on expression of opinion -- especially political opinion -- is a violation of the First Amendment, or the First Amendment means absolutely nothing if a judge can interfere with a private legal settlement because he doesn't like your publicly-stated opinion. That may not be the law or the precedent, but that is my view of what should be under the First Amendment... or it means nothing, just like the Tenth Amendment means nothing anymore.

Marla said...

Respect of law and/or a courtroom? Or residents of Fresno?
Behind Mayor Autry's so-called "upgrade" is a fake work crew (comprised of self-proclaimed killers and child molesters.) After "planting" areas with people who will later serve as "credible witnesses" that nothing took place, the City PAYS their risk analyst to conspire with this barbaric crew in lying and setting up any remaining residents for total annihilation. Then the road can be widened, private properties gutted and haphazardly reconstructed, as unauthorized sewer/water lines are replaced down alleys! ("Secret" water diversion, according to the ringleader, WGS.) Utility poles relocated/reconnected, street lights, storm drains, fire hydrants - no record for any of it! Property re-sold with altered plat/parcel maps that cover up the changes; in some cases forgeries and fraud. Burglaries, bank fraud, insurance fraud, VIN altering, suspected arson - Autry is even covering up this group's trail of real estate theft, suspected homicide, unsolved murder/s! Check out the Tower District, where they were being wiped out right and left!
Biggest and most corrupt operation in the history of CA.