Monday, November 13, 2017

Guest View: Diane Peters ~ Town of Oro Valley vs. First Amendment. Part 1.

At a Town Council meeting a few months ago, I distributed LOVE flyers to residents as they began taking their seats. I received some looks of trepidation from the mayor and council when they entered the room to take their seats. However, no one tried to stop me from distributing the flyers because I had a right, under the First Amendment, to distribute and disseminate information to the public.

The flyer I was distributing is at right (Click on the flyer to enlarge it)

The worried looks on the faces of the mayor and council indicated that they would most likely scramble to find a way to prevent me (or anyone else) from distributing flyers at future meetings. I suspected that if there was already something in the Town Code pertaining to this practice, they would resurrect it and make it known. If there wasn’t anything currently in the Town Code covering the distribution of flyers, they would instruct staff to add it to the code.

So it came as no surprise to me when I visited the Town Hall recently, to discover that a notice prohibiting the distribution of handbills had now been posted at the entrance. It reads:

Distribution of handbills in
Town Meetings prohibited
Oro Valley Town Code 10-9

Research revealed that this article/section was added to the Town Code in March 2002. I moved to Oro Valley in 2003 and in all these years, I’ve never seen this notice posted at the Town Hall. It appears that the Town Council decided to resurrect this law in an attempt to prevent citizens from engaging in their First Amendment rights. As such, I recently followed up by emailing a letter to the Town Clerk (with copies to the Town Manager and Town Attorney).
Part 2 (including my letter) will be published tomorrow.