Austin Mayor Orders Police to Remove Ronnie Reeferseed from City Council Meeting for Making his Trademark Inhale Sound
Ronnie Reeferseed is now banned for 1 year from Austin City Council Meetings. Also banned at this meeting was John Bush, who is banned from Austin City Council Meetings for 1 year.
Candle Light Vigil Mourning the Death of Free Speech at City Hall
Texans For Accountable Government
August 25, 2011
August 25th Austinites mourn the death of free speech at City Hall after three peaceful citizens had their rights violated by Austin's Mayor and City Council.
Mayor Leffingwell arbitrarily created a "rule" to limit the number of items a citizen may speak on during a city council meeting.
As they should, many in attendance rejected this usurpation of their rights. As a result, John Bush was banned from City Hall for a year and the Clay DaFoe is threatening to press criminal charges of Criminal Oppression against the mayor, in his official and personal capacities.
Additionally, city hall regular, Ronnie Reeeeeeferseed, was banned because the Mayor didn't care for the way he pronounces his name, even though Ronnie has been doing this at City Hall for years!
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Aug. 25, 2011
Citizens in outrage over this afternoon’s civil rights violations hold candle light vigil at City Hall to mourn the death of free speech.
What: Candle light vigil outside of city hall to protest free speech abuses by Mayor Leffingwell
Where: City Hall - corner of Caesar Chavez and Lavaca
When: Tonight - Aug. 25 at 9:30 PM
Contact: Heather Fazio 512-825-9142 Heather.Fazio@tagtexas.org
AUSTIN - Mayor Leffingwell may have bit off more than he can chew last Thursday when he decided to institute a rule barring citizens from speaking on more than three items in one given day.
During today’s City Council meeting, three Austinites were denied their right to petetition the government for a redress of grievances by Mayor Lee Leffingwell and City Staff.
Two of them were banned from City Hall for a year.
Local activist, Clay Defoe was refused the opportunity to speak on Agenda items 32 and 70 (both concerning Barton Springs Pool) due to Mayor Leffingwell and the City Attorney misconstruing Sec. 2-5-25 (D) of the City Code which states, “A person, other than a council member, may not participate in removing more than three items from the consent agenda for a single council meeting.”
The City Attorney and Mayor erroneously stated that in addition to not participating in removing an agenda item as the code states, citizens were also to be prevented from speaking on said items. Upon reviewing the code itself, one finds this prohibition is lacking. As this is a government of limited powers, if the city code does not grant the Mayor the ability to limit the number of items a citizen may speak on and the Mayor attempts to do so, he is usurping his authority under the code.
As if Mr. Defoe’s civil right’s violation was not enough, Ronnie Reeferseed, a City Council regular, was silenced by Mayor Leffingwell after Ronnie stated his name in his trademark manner, which involves inhaling while talking.
Ronnie was not only kicked out of the meeting, he was also issued a Criminal Trespass Warning (CTW), which effectively bans him from City Hall for a year.
Joining Ronnie in being removed from City Hall and also banned for a year was local Austin gadfly John Bush. Mr. Bush, not being one to voluntarily waive his rights, was forced to leave after refusing to be silenced as Mayor Leffingwell attempted to prohibit him from speaking on an item which he had signed up to deliver testimony on.
Said John Bush after being banned for a year, “Mayor Leffingwell seems to be in a bad place lately. He has grown increasingly pompous and has begun treating citizens poorly. This latest incident is just more evidence that he is not fit to serve as the Mayor of this community, a community which supports citizen participation in the governing process. It’s only a matter of time before he goes the way of Shady the Clown.”
Both Clay and John as well as Ronnie are considering filing charges of official oppression and filing a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. Mr. Bush also alleged that the sitting clerk at the meeting is guilty of altering the public record and identity theft for changing the public record on behalf of citizens without their knowledge or consent.
Supporters of Clay, Ronnie, and John are calling on the community to join them tonight at 9:30 PM at City Hall, as they mourn the death of free speech in Austin.
On August 18th, Mayor Leffingwell denied Clay DaFoe the right to speak (or to donate time to another
speaker) on items 24, 74, and 76. Each of these items was pulled from the consent agenda either by a
council member or multiple citizens. Regardless of Mayor Leffingwell’s convoluted understanding of the
City Code, a citizen may not be prevented from speaking on items, especially when the citizen has not
participated in the pulling of those items, as was the case with items 74 and 76, which were pulled by
council members. View press release.
Ronnie Reeferseed being escorted out of City Hall:
Consent Agenda (§2-5-25) “A person, other than a council member, may not participate in removing more than three items from the consent agenda for a single council meeting.”
Under Austin City Code (§2-5-29) "a person is not limited in the number of items on which the person may register to testify." And if the Council decides to limit the number of speakers due to the sake of time, the Council must provide a record of all those who originally signed up to speak.
Another provision (§2-5-27) states that the mayor or other presiding officer "should not refuse permission to speak to a person who has registered to speak, and who is present and ready to speak, unless the hearing or consideration of the item for which the person has registered to speak has been continued to a later meeting."