Mary Zacher, all dressed up, walked into the TC Tuesday morning and announced, “My First Amendment rights are protected,” and we applauded her.
Nancy Layton, an Idyllwild Fire commissioner, had filed a “Request for Civil Harassment Restraining Orders” against Mary for speaking out at Idyllwild Fire meetings.
Riverside County Superior Court Commissioner Kathleen Jacobs did the only thing she could do. Deny the case because the issues “are ‘political’ issues and are protected under the First Amendment.” Duh!
When Mary asked in an IFPD meeting for documents, she was told her request must be made in writing, and that IFPD’s ordinance stated so. Well, the ordinance didn’t state so but if it had, the California Public Records Act trumps any little rule IFPD might enact to keep the public out of its filing cabinets. Yes, requests can be made orally.
What truly is happening here is the Dark Ages — a public agency operating without knowledge and/or regard for the open and transparency laws established over several decades to keep these little governmental bodies accountable to their public taxpayers.
Mary is a taxpayer.
She has the right to comment to public officials in public meetings. She has the right to request, whether written or oral, copies of documents from public agencies.
And so, Mary did not back down when sued. She drove to the hearing in Hemet, listened to Nancy’s testimony and then witnessed her federal rights protected under the First Amendment.
That’s why we applaud Mary. Hurray for democracy; hurray for freedom of speech.
The IFPD board will never win a fight against laws that protect citizens like Mary.
Becky Clark, Editor