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1/6/2010 6:00:00 AM
GV resident balks at county policy

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter


GOLDEN VALLEY - A Mohave County resident is seeking answers as to why county officials prevented him from passing out flyers during Sen. John McCain's visit to the county in November.

Golden Valley resident Luca Zanna said he and another resident were handing out flyers about McCain's voting record before McCain's November town hall meeting when District III Supervisor Buster Johnson and a county security guard asked him to stop.

Zanna said Johnson told him there was a law preventing people from passing out political campaign literature or political information on county property. He did not argue with Johnson or the security guard and stopped handing out the flyers because he did not want to miss McCain's speech, he said. However, he feels that his First Amendment right to free speech and Fourteenth Amendment to equal protection under the law were infringed when he was asked to stop.

Zanna said he later found Arizona Revised Statute 11-410, which states that the county and county employees cannot use their public standing, employees, county equipment, materials or buildings to influence an election.

The statute does not say anything about private citizens handing out materials, he said.

He then tried to follow up on the issue with Supervisors Johnson, Gary Watson and Tom Sockwell. He also called County Attorney Matt Smith. The supervisors and Smith never returned his calls, Zanna said.

Zanna did get an e-mail from the County Attorney's Office on Dec. 18 stating, "It has long been our position and policy that county property is an appropriate place to conduct county business unmolested by political activities and opinions. It is not meant to be a forum for constitutionally protected free speech as there are other convenient places where those rights can be exercised without disrupting the rights of others."

County Civil Attorney Bill Ekstrom repeated that statement Monday to the Miner.

He received a call from Johnson just before the November town hall meeting asking what the county policy was on distributing campaign literature. He never saw the flyer Zanna was passing out and did not know what was on it. He told Johnson the county does not allow the distribution of campaign literature on county property.

The policy against campaign literature, petitions and other political information applies not only to county employees, but also to anyone who steps on to county property, Ekstrom said.

"We have to maintain a level of order and decorum for the public," he said.

"Once we allow one person to do something like that, we have to allow others to do so, too. All of our civil rights are limited by the civil rights of others. There is no bright line that we can draw."

The county also has the right to remove people from county property or a county meeting if a citizen becomes too disruptive, Ekstrom said.

The McCain town hall was not set up as a political event, he said. It was a town hall meeting designed to update residents on what was going on with the healthcare reform bills in Washington D.C. It was not designed as a debate, although there were some people who challenged McCain during the meeting.

The county is also a place of business; residents have a right to enter a county building or property without being constantly stopped by people asking for petition signatures, passing out campaign literature or other information, he said.

"We don't allow campaigning on county property," Johnson said Monday. The policy is designed to protect the public and employees from feeling pressured to support a candidate for office, he said. The idea of the town hall was to have a civilized discussion about issues, not have it turn into a shouting match, he said.

Zanna said he is not impressed with the answers to his questions. County officials never showed him the policy they were referring to when they asked him to stop distributing the flyers and they didn't return his phone calls.

"I was not trying to create a confrontation. I was very polite. I was trying to communicate with them," he said. "I was just trying to find out about the policy."

McCain, his staff and supporters were allowed to speak, why couldn't he and others opposed to McCain's voting record speak? Zanna asked.

Zanna was eventually allowed to speak toward the end of the town hall meeting, but only after he had to shout to be heard, he said. "I didn't want to do that," he said, but he felt like others were trying to prevent him from speaking to McCain.

"Mr. Johnson needs to remember that his duties as the head of the Republican Party in Mohave County need to come second to his duties as a supervisor representing the people," Zanna said.

"They (county officials) need to read the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution."

Zanna said he has already contacted some state representatives. "I'm not doing this for the notoriety," he said. "It's not just about me. It's about everyone's rights."

The county is very cautious about when it enforces this policy, Ekstrom said.

"We respect people's rights. We feel we acted appropriately. We can't deviate from the policy without creating other issues," he said.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, April 16, 2011
Article comment by: Fog Horn Leghorn

The couny should have a complete over haul and we'll have no problems when it is. Recall everyone !!!!!!!!!!!!! If I knew the county this county was was so bad in managment ect ect. i would have never moved here.

Posted: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Article comment by: Recall Is Catching On

People are signing the petition to recall Sockwell It is available at RecallSockwell.com if you contact them. They will come to your home and bring the petition TO you so you can sign it. Simple. Let's get this done...Sockwell needs to go and most of you know it. The signatures are coming in! Thanks.

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2010
Article comment by: Sign Up For Freedom of Speech

Check us at RecallSockwell.com to see our site. We are getting signatures to recall Sockwell. Read about us and join us in our fight.

Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010
Article comment by: Ica rus

@George Washington: Speaking of not reading, where did I say Zanna? I said @D. King. Try to pay attention, thanks in advance.

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010
Article comment by: Help Us Fight For Our Rights

We need help to get signatures to recall Sockwell. All we need is for people to sign our petition and we can change Mohave County back to the peaceful County it was before Sockwell began his new 'policies.' Contact us at RecallSockwell.com. Let's stick together and do this!

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Article comment by: We Can Recall Sockwell

Folks, the recall is really charged up, we are raising money and getting signatures! This county has been under the corrupt thumbs of this BOS for too long, and they have gone too far. We can now remove Sockwell from office. Help us do this.
Please go to RecallSockwell.com to help! We meet every week, we need your help, be part of history to clean up this county! RecallSockwell.com for info!


Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Article comment by: George Washington

Ica Rus. Either you don't pay attention or you can't read, or you just want to fight, but Mr. Zanna is not sue happy as you state. And, he does not want money. Haven't you seen what he wants? Have you been paying attention, or do you just sit down and start writing something arbitrary for the fun of it? He wants Sockwell and his bunch recalled and men of integrity who CARE about their constituents in office. He wants men in office who will return phone calls and listen to the citizens of this county. Have you been listening? Where did you get the idea that Mr. Zanna got a lawyer and said "give me money?" Almost every post you put on here is incorrect. You need to read more carefully I think...or something!

Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010
Article comment by: Betsy Ross

What a great article! And the letter from Bridget Langston just makes me want to stand up and cheer. Luca Zanna was so right that it almost hurts. No one can dispute that he was within his rights to pass out voting records of McCain. He was peaceful, quiet, and respectful. Just standing there as an American Citizen..(NOT an "Naturalized Italian)"...but an American...exercising his rights. This man probably knows more about the Constitution than any of us. Because he had to WORK to become an American. He cared enough to take the time and effort to LEARN about our country. He is doing what all Americans are able to do...using his right of free speech. He was polite at the meeting and cut off, not allowed to speak. He has been patient and dignified in the face of such abuse and defamation of his character.
I wish them all the luck in the world. God bless them for having to courage to stand up to these men who have become so corrupted with power.


Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010
Article comment by: Please Step Up and Help with www.RecallSockwell.com

To help with RecallSockwell go to www.RecallSockwell.com or e-mail MohaveFreedom@Yahoo.com
The cause is growing stronger every day, but we still need people to circulate petitions and we need donations.
Now is the time for change and we can do it.


Posted: Monday, March 1, 2010
Article comment by: RUFUS RUFUS

BILL BILL BILL MR BILL EKSTROM.. DONT YOU THINK YOU SHOULD RETIRE..YOU HAVE BEEN AT THIS SOOOO LONG, IT IS EFFECTING YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS. PLEASE LEAVE

Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Article comment by: Ica rus

@D.King and the like: Why are you guys so sue happy? It's one of the most un-American things you can do to a fellow citizen.
Here's you guys: "BooHoo, Somebody hurt my feelings, I'm calling a lawyer! Give me free money! Give me a check!"


Posted: Monday, January 25, 2010
Article comment by: D. King

A policy is not a law!

The County and especially Johnson owes Luca an apology! They also owe him a great sum of money for violating his Constitutional Rights.

They all should be fired!

Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Article comment by: Bridget Langston

It's 'We the People', not "You People"

I was one of the people in attendance at the monthly County meeting held at our County Building on Jan. 11th.

I was there so that I could hear Luca Zanna ask the County Supervisors why we were censored and prevented from passing out Senator McCain’s voting record at the John McCain Town Hall meeting last November. At the time, we were told that it was illegal for a citizen to pass out fliers on County Property. However, McCain and his staff were able to exercise their first amendment by collecting signatures and passing out fliers.

After researching this 'law', we found that it's nonexistent, and was a clear violation of our 1st amendment rights.

Luca had tried several times to call the supervisors and County Attorney, but no one returned his calls, so he went to the meeting today in hopes of addressing this important issue.

His 3 minutes were intercepted because a citizen is not allowed to speak at these meetings unless you are on the agenda, and if you can not get someone to call you back because they don’t want you to speak about an issue, then you can’t get on the agenda.

Tom Sockwell was obviously not pleased to see Luca in attendance today, he was outwardly annoyed to be bothered with such trivia like Constitutional rights for citizens, and he begrudgingly ’allowed’ Luca 15 seconds to tell the board that no one would call him back and that is why he was not on the agenda… but not before Sockwell blurted out ‘You People’ (twice), delivered with all the negative connotations that is associated with that phrase. What came through loud and clear was Lord Sockwell’s disdain and arrogance for the serfs, the audacity that we should want to speak about abused 1st amendment rights, and shocking that we would want to do so in a building that we pay for in front of people that work for us.

It’s this kind of elitism and insolence that needs to be eradicated if we have any chance of ever living in a community we can be proud of, and it’s high time citizens clean house and take this county back from ‘the good ole boys’ and their corruption, and put some new people and attitudes into play. What a refreshing thought.

Mr. Sockwell, it‘s not "You People", it's 'We the People'.

Posted: Friday, January 8, 2010
Article comment by: Tired Of Waste

Doesn't Buster Johnson use his COUNTY vehicle during re-election time? Does he not drive to debates and functions of a political nature? Isn't THAT using County Property to further a Political Agenda? OH WAIT! It's OK in that case, It's King Buster. Let's just vote him out, OK?

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: Blue Streak Patriot

It’s high time to clean out the good ‘ole boy network in Kingman – all the way down to the bone. I watched from the rear of the audience the day of the McCain Town Hall meeting. The subtle signals, the whispers and the brief little passing comments by those quick on their feet all aimed at keeping a citizen tax payer from expressing his opinion. This was not an election on county property. It was an open meeting conducted by a has-been politician to try to justify his mere existence. Attendees’ should have been free to have their say as well as present any public information that they felt appropriate for dissemination to those people attending.

Apparently Colonel Klink and the rest of his boot lickers didn’t want to suffer any embarrassment caused by restless natives in front of their hero McCain. And what was up with that [deleted] security guard taking pictures of everyone who spoke? “Look Ma, I can take pictures with just one hand and be ready to draw my firearm in a blink of an eye!” [Deleted].

There is a new day of accountability coming people. It has started, in part, with the Articles of Freedom, The Works of the Continental Congress 2009 document available at the following web address:

http://www.cc2009.us/images/pdf/Articles-of-Freedom.12.24.2009.pdf

Cleaning up government starts in our own back yard. This is no longer a Republican vs. Democrat issue. This is government, right down to the local level, working against the citizens of the State of Arizona. They have told you to either play by their rules or keep your mouth shut. I will not do either.

Blue Streak Patriot

Proud non-slave citizen of The United States of America

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: mohave county voter

I do not know Mr. Zanna, but it is clear that no matter who you are in this county, if you try to express an opinion other than the one fostered by those of entitlement (aka:the electeds), you are some how an insurgent or miscreant. The point that so many people around here forget, is that everyone has the right to a voice. Peaceful demonstration and vocal protest (which includes the silent distribution of printed material) is protected by the Constitution of the United States. This idea, thank goodness, transcends party lines. When anyone in an official capacity works to up-end that right, it is a travesty and a miscarriage of justice. This action not only prevents the dissemination of information, it also prevents the recipient from gaining knowledge. The fact of the venue could be debated, but this is not the first time that this type of censorship has been practiced at so-called "public events". The electeds in this county are so accustomed to the "little people" rolling over for them that they have become absolutely shameless when it comes to what they feel entitled to. No one ever brings up the statute about non-use of county equipment when it comes to the campaigns of the encumbents, use of county vehicles to travel hundreds of miles to attend political meetings, party fundraisers and transporting political materials; use of county-owned computers, copiers and cell phones for personal/politcal purposes. It goes on every day and could be easily documented if anyone really cared. Take a close look at who pulls up in a county vehicle at the next "strictly politcal" function held in your neighborhood; i.e. all the Republican-sponsored breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, precinct committee meetings, picnics and the assortment of junkets throughout the county that are party-affiliated.

The McCain visit was kept pretty close to the vest, I am surprised that anyone outside of "THE CIRCLE" even knew about it until it was past tense. It is way past time for a change, and it is up to us to become more focused and less intimidated. I am no slave. I pay a good deal of money into this corrupt county system and I expect fair treatment and proper enforcement, not Gestapo tactics. Will we continue to allow these moth-eaten Little Caesars to rule for life? Come on, it is time for a new day in Mohave County. I am ashamed that so many people think this is the most corrupt county, but that is sure how it seems. REMEMBER EVERYONE HAS A VOICE, USE IT AND DON'T FORGET TO VOTE.

MCV

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

It was quite obvious to everyone in attendance that Luca was being deliberately overlooked. In the end Buster Johnson made quite an effort to silence him. Thanks to all who called out to let him speak. I am ashamed that I was not one of them but hearing others restored some of my faith in the willingness of some to make a stand for their fellow citizen.

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: FreedomLover

I was in attendance for this town hall meeting. As a conservative Republican I can say McCain is a complete fraud. Buster is an idiot. They work for US!

Once elected into office, they all act like Kings and we are merely their peasants.

Good for you Luca. They weren't going to let you speak. It wasn't until you stood up and spoke anyway did they 'allow' it to save face.

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: maggie

It's long past time for all residents to speak up and let the officials know we will not let our rights be infringed upon. Thanks Luca, for taking time to write this.

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: Luca Zanna

You are less than a slave according to our "Mohave County Lords"

Fact 1: Slaves don't have freedom of speech unless Master allow it.

We don't either in Mohave County property according to County Attorney and County Supervisors "Policy". But they decide who can have it.

Fact 2: Slaves are not allowed to read or to be shown the "law".

We don't either in Mohave County.

Fact 3 Slaves are not allowed to petition their Masters.

We don't either in Mohave County.

Fact 4 Only differences between US and the Slaves. They don't have to pay taxes...

We do, in Mohave County.

A vocal County Policy seems to be above our US Constitution, Arizona Constitution and Bill of Rights.

WOW! Power of the Lawyers!!! Power of the County Lords!!!

We will get the Tyranny that we deserve if we don't stand up!

Please read my letter

read my letter and stand togehter up for our Rights!

http://mohaveminutemen.com/nofreedomofspeechmohavecounty.htm

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrants will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." - Thomas Jefferson

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: No name provided

16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256

"The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of it's enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision branding it. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it."

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Article comment by: Patrick Henry

The Constitution is not an instrument to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain government-lest it come to dominate our lives and interests...The public servants have become the masters.

Posted: Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Article comment by: Sharky

If propounding your point of view on public property in a non-aggressive and non-disruptive manner is not "constitutionally protected free speech," what is? Maintaining "a level of decorum and order for the public" sounds like unconstitutional censorship pure and simple. Mr. Zanna: contact the ACLU and get a legal opinion.

Posted: Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Article comment by: Justice & Liberty

"We respect people's rights. We feel we acted appropriately. We can't deviate from the policy without creating other issues," (Ekstrom) said.

From what I have seen and experienced here in Mohave County in the past 6 month, this would have to be one of the very few cases were the “City” or the “County” would have made a particular effort to “respect people’s rights”. Personally I still think that Mohave County is one of the most corrupt counties in the western half of the US.


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