MAC attacks Patriot Act
By Kelly Feser Eells
The first item of business on
the Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Council's agenda Monday night
was a familiar one: the proposed adoption of a civic resolution
"reaffirming the commitment to civil liberties and the Bill
Last July, a group of concerned citizens led by former Ojai resident
Carol Grier was unsuccessful in its efforts to persuade the city
of Ojai to adopt the resolution, which is modeled after - and
nearly identical to - a declaration drafted and adopted by the
state of Hawaii in "defiance of the Patriot Act." With
two council members opposed and two in favor (and one absent),
the motion to support and/or adopt the resolution died.
Ojai resident Sue Broidy, who, as Executive Officer Steve Offerman
noted in his introduction of the item for discussion, "is
picking up where Carol Grier (who'd submitted the resolution
for the MAC's consideration last month) left off," recalled
her disappointment. "Unfortunately, our City Council chose
not to adopt the resolution because one of its members had not
yet read the act. Well, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't either.
But I've trusted the ACLU summaries of it, and the many, many
media outlets and Internet articles."
Broidy added that, while the Patriot Act is complex and extremely
wordy ("and I don't know how much time you have to spend
on it tonight), I'd be happy to spell out the changes to our
civil rights and the Constitution that it egregiously changes
in the name of hunting terrorists."
Pointing to an Associated Press report entitled "Overview
of Changes to Legal Rights in the Patriot Act," she said,
"It's been an interesting experience for me, as a relatively
new citizen to this country, recognizing that the things I came
for - things that didn't exist in the United Kingdom - were (now)
under threat here. I mean, we didn't have a Bill of Rights in
England. But here I am in the 'Land of the Free,' and I find
that things are being whittled away."
Broidy was especially concerned with what she described as the
"sneak-and-peek" provision, "being followed by
(presidential candidate) Dennis Kucinich," and such issues
as the "unconstitutional authorization of the federal government,"
via its adoption of the Patriot Act, to infringe on such fundamental
liberties as protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
"I would very much like you to adopt this Resolution; even
though you may think it's a Federal issueit's not. It's a grassroots
issue, spreading throughout the country, as people are becoming
aware of the implications of the Patriot Act. And now we have
the Attorney General going around the country promoting the Act,
preparing people for Patriot Act II. Which has even more egregious
elements in it!"
Council member Ray King asked Broidy to please explain more about
the "sneak-and-peek" provision.
"It's probably got most to do with the way the government
may search and seize," she replied." I believe it allows
them to infringe more on our protection from unreasonable search
and seizure, to do so without someone being charged."
Councilman Alan Saltzman said that, while "I'm sympathetic
with your presentation, most of this resolution is very vague
and there's only one thing on here that is clearly offensive,
and that's eavesdropping on confidential communications between
lawyers and their clients. But most resolutions are very vague
and too, well, unnecessary - besides," he added, "you
haven't provided (us) with a copy of the Act, and we do need
it" to review.
Saltzman further explained that, "most of these items, well,
you don't need a resolution for these things. Like using state
or county resources on unconstitutional activities - you don't
need a resolution for that. It's probably illegal to use county
resources for unconstitutional activities anyway. You're not
adding to existing law (here.)"
Bristling, he added, "and this part here about law enforcement
providing 'proper notification' when investigating a crime, well,
it seems to me you don't want to tell the person you're investigating
them (in some cases.) It kind of defeats the purpose. Every lawyer
in this county and this state can issue a subpoena. Even though
I'm strongly biased against the Patriot Act, from what little
I know about it, this resolution doesn't reach the real issues."
Council chairman Jim Perkins called on Casitas Springs resident
Steve Durfee, who said, "you may recall that, right after
Sept. 11, that horrible day, there were something like 1,100
people rounded up and held for over a year. And all because they
had Arabic names and because of the color of their skin."
Durfee added, "And, despite repeated legitimate requests
from the Congress if the United States for the names of these
people, this was denied over and over and over again. We're not
talking about legitimate drug busts" or the like. "We're
talking about the difference between a government that rules
by the Bill of Rights or a govern net that doesn't."
Councilman Russ Baggerly said,
"I understand what you're saying, and I understand what
Alan (Saltzman's) saying. And I do have sympathy for these issues.
But I, too, would like to see the Act - and the issues - clearly
laid out. And the issues are not clear in this Resolution.
King agreed that "this is
kind of a weak resolutionalthough it does seem to clear that
(the Patriot Act) is an attempt to ratchet away the intentions
laid out in the Bill of Rights. King noted that, "though
this is a rare kind of issue for the MAC to be looking at - we're
used to looking at land use, really local issues - I'd be inclined
to support it.
Council member Lanie Springer
said that, "while I agree with Councilman Saltzman, that
this Resolution is too vague," she, too, would be interested
in further discussion.
Saltzman half-seriously made
a motion to "draft an amended Resolution right now,"
which was not voted on.
The Council subsequently proposed
that it adopt the Resolution once amended, reviewed against the
Patriot Act, and approved by the Board of Supervisors; the vote
passed six-to-one, with Perkins opposing.
The Ojai Valley News
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