Here's another outreach idea -- we could do our own events on the steps of City Hall.
I was down there today for a rally for Ross Mirkarimi, the embattled sheriff trying to hold onto his job in the face of Ethics Commission hearings based on his conviction on a charge that never should have been brought, because the alleged victim, his wife, did not wish to press charges. I had hoped they would have a sound system and speakers and that I'd be able to speak, but it turned out to be only around 15 people or so, mostly holding signs, with a little bit of chanting.
After I was there a few minutes however, sheriff's deputies came out of the building and told us we couldn't be on the building steps and would have to go down to the sidewalk because we didn't have a permit. I asked if they could get us a permit, and they referred me to Room 8. Although I was not expecting success, I thought I would go down there (it's in the basement on the Polk Street side of the building, just downstairs from where we were) and ask for one.
When I entered the office and told the two guys there I wanted a permit to demonstrate on the steps of City Hall, the one in charge asked me when it was for, and I said "right now". He verified there was nothing else scheduled, and then got on a walkie-talkie (I know cell phone reception in the building can be bad, but I wonder how much the taxpayers paid for those) and told somebody he had someone in his office requesting a permit for now. The person he was talking to sounded like he said he didn't have time to do it, but I said we didn't need anything from them other than the permit. He'd already given me the form and it was a simple one-page document with an accompanying page of rules, all they needed to do was sign it. In any case, he eventually said someone else was coming over and would be there shortly, which turned out to be their media manager, Rohan Lane. He was very friendly and cooperative, and signed the permit right away, asking if there was anything else they could do. I said they could get rid of the permit requirement altogether, as it was unnecessary. He said it was basically just in case different groups wanted to use the space at the same time. I noted that it did seem to have gotten better, that they used to require people to be sponsored by a Supervisor in order to have events on the steps -- which is in fact what I'd expected them to tell me when I went down there. He said they had streamlined the process, and I said that was good, and asked who deserved the credit, and he said he himself was actually responsible, so I told him thank you.
Anyway, this is very good news for us. The steps of City Hall are a great place to do rallies and press conferences and such, and without needing a supervisor's involvement, we could easily get a permit and do this. We can even use a megaphone without an additional permit. The time slots can be up to two hours. Weekdays (mornings or early afternoons) are probably best in terms of foot traffic at the building, but if that doesn't work for people we could do weekends. I was thinking perhaps we could simply take turns on my megaphone reading the text of some various articles on government outrages to everyone within earshot. We could also invite guest speakers or what-not.
By the way, the Ethics Commission apparently met for about five hours last night, and most of the day today, before adjourning until their next hearing on July 18. Ross Mirkarimi himself came out to thank his supporters, and told us that was the next date. I was surprised it was going to take that long, but he seemed to feel it was okay; I guess maybe there are witnesses to call and such. Someone who'd been watching the hearing said that Mayor Ed Lee testified earlier, and then there had been a break in the proceedings because someone phoned in a threat or something. The Mirkarimi supporter who related this speculated that it was a pretext to interrupt the mayor's testimony because he was making himself look bad. I don't know, but there didn't seem to be any general evacuation of the building or anything. This woman told us that Ed Lee appeared to have been caught in a lie (who would have imagined!), saying he didn't talk to any Supervisors about something, when Christine Olague was heard saying she had talked to him. Reportedly she subsequently reversed herself and said she had not.
I did watch part of the hearing yesterday evening, but only on TV in the north light court downstairs, because they said the hearing room was full and they weren't letting anyone in. This was annoying, as they could have easily used a larger room, or accommodated more people. There were even a couple empty seats visible behind the attorneys as they spoke on TV. Everyone in the overflow area -- perhaps 30 people -- appeared to be a Mirkarimi supporter, or if they weren't they kept quiet. People had signs, stickers, and buttons, and a petition which I signed in support of the sheriff. There was also at least one reporter who hadn't been able to get into the hearing room either. What I saw of the hearing itself was mainly a bunch of back and forth over minutiae of what evidence was to be allowed and such. It wasn't really possible to tell for sure how the commissioners really felt on the matter at hand from their comments -- the chair, an Asian man whose name I didn't catch, seemed to be trying to exclude material potentially harmful to Mirkarimi, but it's always possible he plans to vote against him and just wants to cover himself in order to look fair. As I understand it, the Ethics Commission won't actually do anything other than issuing a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors (apparently not until July 18 or later).
Ross recognized me, by the way, and seemed genuinely grateful that I was there (I'm not exactly part of his base, and he may have been pleasantly surprised), but he said something like "libertarian would understand". He seemed fairly relaxed and upbeat.
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))