Continuing Correspondence With Don Lane on the “Decorum” Rules


Thanks Robert
I look forward to hearing your comments at the council meeting.
I have forwarded your PRA request on to Nydia for formal processing– and I can tell you that I have no documents along the lines you requested.  I have this information filed in my own memory: that when you and your proxies have been sitting adjacent to the lectern I have seen many community speakers show very visible concern about people sitting in that spot and on several occasions I have seen people flinch or recoil as you move toward or handle your recording device near the lectern.  I know how committed you are to community participation at council meetings so I hope you will support eliminating one impediment to that participation.
Thanks for considering.

Don Lane

City of Santa Cruz



I’m still trying to understand why you support the “unattended audio devices” rule at all.   That was the first question I asked you.

What purpose does it serve?  Can you cite any disruptions caused by my regular recording over the last dozen years?

As you know,  the rule was unenforced for 13 years until a singularly repressive and anti-homeless Mayor took power.  I have been a homeless advocate and strong Council critique for nearly three decades, and I think it’s pretty clear this “rule” targets my radio work.  Do you deny this?

You note some find it uncomfortable to have me sitting near the podium.  I did too. It’s awkward to have to guard my recorder throughout the meeting.  And should be unnecessary, as well.   I wouldn’t have been up there at all, except an armed police officer kept shutting off my “unattended” recorder and outrageously confiscating it. That was after I was falsely arrested on April 1st.

I found it sad that you neither objected to the arrest or the subsequent confiscations, nor took action to stop it when you had the power as acting Mayor.  This kind of behavior by the Council is petty and unnecessary.

It’s also unprecedented.  Can you cite any other local legislative body that requires you to “sit next to your recorder or risk having it confiscated” or requires it to be placed in a special zone?

It seems to me a rather arrogant and pointless assertion of authority for its own sake.

Your proposed “permission zone” for recording devices runs afoul of  the basic First Amendment right of any member of the public, and particularly a reporter, to record–even if they step away from their machine to read an agenda, chat with a friend, use the restroom, or take a break outside.

How does the placement of a small inconspicuous device actually disrupt the meeting?

As I mentioned before, I’d be happy to make any reasonable accommodation.  How about it?

As I advised Mayor Robinson, I’d be happy to be careful not to interfere with others at the podium–as I have been throughout the years–in recording.  Wouldn’t this satisfy your concerns?   In this case no furniture, signs, additional  recorder “attendants” would be necessary.

I know how committed you are to community participation and media access at Council meetings, so I hope you will restore what has been a problem-free arrangement for the last decade or more.

Let me know.   While there are far more important matters we are both concerned about, the issue of media access is an important one to me.


P.S.  I’m also concerned with your new definition of “disruption” which seems to ignore the court case which the City lost when the 9th Circuit clarified that “disruption” means real disruption not  simply a rule violation.  Has there been some more recent court decision changing this?