Holy Smokes

Something about this whole Overfield thing has sure caught the fancy of the blogosphere, hasn't it? Don't you guys know that it is summer out there? You might want to look out your windows once in a while...

Seriously, though, I want to add a little to the comments. First, I put this piece up since I thought tempers had cooled a bit and it was time for some levity. I guess I was wrong.

First, I disagree with the posters who have attacked the officers for doing their jobs. (Please, no Holocaust references. Let's keep a sense of perspective here.) Yes, it would have been preferable if they had loudly and clearly announced who they were and what they were doing. Frankly, though, at this point we only have one version of events that suggests that they did not. It might well come out that there is contrary testimony.

Second, while I do not agree with it, I do believe that what the Commission has done is legal. I have not researched it, but I think there is some authority to allow time limits. Also, they have the right to enforce legal rules, whether we like it or not.

Third, I think Ms. Overfield has been charged with Disorderly Conduct, as Wolfpack postulates. (It is a misdeweene...DOH! A misdemeanor.) Any sort of constitutional argument relating to free speech would, I think, be offered by Ms. Overfield as a defense to the charges against her.

Finally, I do not think this case will make it to trial. If not dismissed outright, I think Ms. Overfield will be offered a very good deal. If it does go to trial, we know where they stand, right? She'll allege a free speech right, the Mayor will allege a disruption, and the jury will make the call after watching the tape.


Anonymous said...

Yes, after watching the several tapes. OH, and one more thing. A veritable ARMY of citizens who were there and who are outraged at the thuggish tactics used on a person simply attempting address an important issue! You see, I saw ALL the tapes that night, including the mysteriously disappeared channel five tape. And brother let me tell you the look on the faces of the people in the crowd pretty much says it all! So, witnesses. Let's not forget good, reputable wintesses! It could get yoogly for donna and company.


Anonymous said...

p.s. I'll take a stab at why this has "caught our fancy". Susan O.'s arrest is only incidental to the much larger issue here, and we ALL know what that is. The proposed coal plant. Susan O. was simply snared unintentionally in a trap set by primadonna, the city council, and their muscle, chief dorky and his boys. The people of Great Falls are furious at being left out of the coal plant process entirely. (just ask around) And the seething is still very much there, just below the surface. The real level of discontent has had no outlet other than meaningless demonstrations in front of the courthouse. So, finally, when you have a perfect storm of outrage and frustration from the public, and draconian, anti-democratic measures from the city to stifle any and all dissent/debate, eventually the trap snaps shut! Only they caught Susan O. instead of a coal opponent. What the unintended consequence of all this is that the cockroaches have now shined a spotlight on themselves! BRIGHTLY! People are paying attention like never before. They want answers, life and death answers. Prior to the arrest of Susan O., the city mothers (short for mofos) were quitely instituting repressive measures that had NEVER been in place here before. And they were essentially getting away with it because they could, becuase they were not challenged. Suddenly, everything changed. People are now scrutinizing their every move. They want answers to those life and death questions. In other words, why SHOULD we suffer the health effects of a monstrous polluter here in Great Falls? Why SHOULD we end up paying anything for this disaster known as Lotten's Folly? Why SHOULD we allow our beautiful air to become like that of any big city? (take a look out there today at the deepest blue you'll see anywhere in the country). So you see, Geeguy, it's about WAY more than Susan O. It's plate tectonics! It's a volcano! Unseen to many, things of seismic proportions were INDEED going on underground. You could almost feel the rumble, the earth trembling. Susan O. is simply now Mount Susan, the volcano for all this heat! Take my word, it ain't a'gonna go away until donna and some of the council do! THAT will be Mount Susan's legacy. And a damn good one too!


Anonymous said...

Does this mean the assault charges have been dropped? Susan got herself into this. She could have cooled her jets and "asked" for more time, or like most of us would do, just sit down. She was rude and demanding. Then to turn and punch someone! Especially someone who was obviously there to keep the peace, officer or not.

Anonymous said...

The assault charges have not been dropped. I know someone in the city attorney's office and it sounds like they will still be taking this to trial.

Anonymous said...

Sad, SO sad that SO many people simply want to "keep the peace" when there are SO many issues of HUGE importance that MUST be discussed and debated OPENLY/PUBLICLY! Methinks that Anon would still enjoy British rule as long as things were "peaceful". Fortunately, even today there are STILL people in America willing to demand to be heard. If someone gets "punched", that's a small damn price to pay for free speech. Anon, you really should get yourself a wee bit of an understanding of history. Many, many times in our country's history the powers that be have tried to silence dissent. VIOLENTLY, at the behest of their corporate owners! Here, from my own family's past, just google The Ludlow Massacre. See how your nice little "law enforcement"/national guard folks treated some miners in Colorado. You're too uninformed to post. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

LK. I think you need a reality check. Violance is not always the way to go. Call a spade a spade. If you think this has anything to do with the coal plant you are sorely mistaken.

Anonymous said...

Within limited context what the city did by instituting the restrictive time limit may be legal. However, as you see below, how they carried it out is not.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Minnesota chapter is lending support to a citizen battling the Minneapolis Park Board over freedom of speech. Arlene Fried, of the group Minneapolis Park Watch, was speaking at the May 2 meeting about reasons she thought the park board should not re-hire superintendent Jon Gurban, when she was cut off. You can see the video of that exchange here. She took her case to the ACLU and the group's legal counsel sent this letter to the board's attorney this week:

May 14, 2007

Brian Rice
Rice, Michels & Walther, LLP.
10 Second Street NE, Suite 206
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413

RE: Public Comment at MPRB Meetings

"...It is well settled law that once a government body creates a limited public forum such as the public comment period during MPRB meetings, regulations of speech in that forum must be content neutral time, place and manner restrictions that are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest. See e.g. City of Madison Joint School District v. Wisconsin Public Employment Relations Comm'n, 429 U.S. 167, 97 S.Ct. 421, 50 L.Ed.2d 376 (1976). Courts have generally recognized that public bodies may make those rules necessary to preserve order during public meetings; thus, rules limiting the amount of time that an individual speaks, restricting individuals to matters within the jurisdiction of the public body, and some courts have upheld rules prohibiting obscenities and vulgarities, and rules prohibiting actual disruptions at meetings. Generally, courts have taken a dim view of restrictions that are intended to shield the government body from public criticism because they are not only content-based restrictions, but they are also even more questionable viewpoint-based restrictions on purely political speech.

We believe that the speech at issue here was clearly protected and should not have been censored simply because Ms. Fried was criticizing the work of government officials. The stated basis for censoring Ms. Fried was that she was making personal attacks. While courts differ as to whether a restriction on "personal attacks" is a permissible restriction in a limited public forum, those courts that have upheld such a restriction have defined personal attacks narrowly to include attacks against individuals in their personal capacity rather than criticisms of the way in which government officials are carrying out their official duties. Scroggins v. City of Topeka Kansas, 2 F.Supp. 2d 1362 (D. Kan. 1998); . The criticism raised by Ms. Fried simply does not rise to the level of a personal attack. It is our understanding that Ms. Fried has experienced difficulty getting a response for some of her pending requests under the Data Practices Act; therefore, her accusations are not simply something that she made up out of the blue.

While it was not the primary basis for censoring Ms. Fried, the MPRB rule prohibiting speakers from discussing personnel is also troubling because it effectively silences citizen criticism of government officials and the job that they are doing."

This is, at heart, the same thing that is happening in our city.

GeeGuy said...

I disagree. The 3-minute rule, on its face, is content neutral. There is no prohibition on certain types of speech, i.e. no comments about personnel.