ACLU Blasts Montebello Over Constitutional Violations
This email was sent August 5 to residents of Montebello regarding the ACLU's letter to city council alleging Freedom of Speech violations in Ordinance 2443.
Dear Neighbor, I wanted to inform the community about something very serious and consequential for both our city’s health and democratic process. Today the City of Montebello received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") claiming council has violated the rights of the people in enacting Ordinance 2443 - City Council Procedures. Specifically, two provisions placing severe limitations on free speech rights including 1) reducing the people's ability to address issues of concern before the council; and 2) banning any critical comments by council. The letter states that these provisions place untenable restrictions on our Federal and State constitutional rights. Council must respond with plans for corrective actions (e.g. repealing the provisions) by August 31 or the ACLU will take further legal action.
California Constitution. Article I - Declaration of Rights. Section 2.
Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.
When I brought up the issues of constitutionality in two council meetings where Ordinance 2443 was ratified, not only did it fall on deaf ears, it was never discussed. The mayor moved to a vote, and it passed 3-2 both times. Since a majority of council, the city manager, and the city attorney were in alignment, my only recourse was to bring it to the attention of an organization that had the rights of the people as their sole interest. I would never maliciously place the city in harm's way. In this instance, the council majority proved it could not be trusted to act reasonably, and additional measures had to be taken. The ACLU conducted an independent analysis and came to the conclusions presented in the link above.
This letter arrives just days before the city council considers including similar provisions in the city manager's contract, among several other provisions expanding the city manager's authority and reducing council to administrative rubber stampers. Council should not only consider the repeal of parts or all of Ordinance 2443, it must also immediately reconsider the provisions of the city manager contract to be approved this Wednesday, August 10. Who approved this contractual language, and how did it end up on the agenda for ratification? Only the mayor, a majority of council, and the city manager have the authority to do so.