December 2, 2009

Listen In on Thursday Morning

I’ll be a guest on Charlie Brennan’s morning show on KMOX tomorrow from around 9:30–10:00 a.m. What will I be discussing? I’m glad you asked. …

Although we haven’t yet discussed it on the blog, I hope that all of our readers are aware that the St. Louis Police arrested Gustavo Rendon, husband of the president of the North Side Community Benefits Alliance. Why? Because he was distributing fliers that opposed the NorthSide redevelopment project recently approved by the city. Even worse, he just happened to be doing so outside the church of Alderwoman April Ford-Griffin, a staunch supporter of the project. So, two police officers arrived, threatened to put his kids in foster care if he didn’t stop distributing the fliers, then arrested him.

The charge? Affixing advertisements to private property.

Fortunately, the city attorneys quickly realized that the ordinance under which they arrested him didn’t, you know, prohibit what he was doing. And even if it had prohibited distributing fliers that communicated purely political ideas, the ordinance probably would have been unconstitutional anyway. So, today they announced that they were dropping the charges.

The bigger problem, which I hope to address with Mr. Brennan, is that Mr. Rendon’s arrest is suggestive of a much larger problem: powerful people trying to stop citizens from having their say on important public issues. In this case, it was police officers arresting someone for communicating opposition to a redevelopment project. In Jim Roos’ case, a city agency is trying to destroy a sign calling for an end to eminent domain abuse. In the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District, officials tried to fine and ban from future meetings certain taxpayers who protested the district’s insane spending. And, of course, the Missouri Municipal League is using taxpayer money for a lawsuit with the primary goal of keeping off the ballot a constitutional amendment that would go a long way toward ending eminent domain abuse in the state — because they know it will pass if citizens are allowed to vote!

So, like I said, tune in tomorrow morning as Charlie Brennan and I discuss these issues. Who knows, there might even be some interesting surprises involved. And, if you can’t listen to tomorrow’s show, keep an eye on the Policy Pulse website, where Audrey Spalding is continuing to do excellent work reporting on abuses of taxpayer money and government authority.

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