Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Initial Response from City of Chesapeake, Ballot Petition Question

I received a response from the City today regarding my complaint that I was told to leave public sidewalks in front of two Chesapeake public libraries last Sunday because I was peacefully engaged in collecting ballot-petition signatures, required by Virginia State Law to put a political candidate on the ballot. The response came from Jan L. Proctor, copied to  Wanda Barnard-Bailey James E. Baker Sandy M. Madison Victoria Strickland-Cordial-Library Mary Lynn Pinkerman Helen V. Melton Susan V. Rowling Leonard Brown Jr. Debbie Ritter Dr. Alan P. Krasnoff Ella Ward John de Triquet Lonnie E. Craig Rick W. West Rick West Ritter Robert C. Ike Roland J. Davis Suzy H. Kelly.

Here is the reply:

 Dear Ms. Burke,

Thank you for expressing concerns about gathering outside of public libraries in order to obtain signatures for a petition.   The policy you referenced is attached and is based on historic practice, as well as general authority under state law and several sections of the City Code, as follows:
Section 15.2-1800(E) of the Code of Virginia provides, in part, that  a locality may operate, maintain, and regulate the use of its real property.
Sec. 46-13 of the City Code - Loitering; obstructing free passage of others.
(a)  Any person who in any public place or on any private property open to the public unreasonably or unnecessarily obstructs the free passage of other persons to and from or within such place or property and who shall fail or refuse to cease such obstruction or move on when requested to do so by the owner or lessee or agent or employee of such owner or lessee or by a duly authorized law enforcement officer shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit lawful picketing.
Sec. 46-16 of the City Code - Political activities in public buildings.
(a) It shall be unlawful to display in any public building any political literature or paraphernalia or use any other means of communication used to advertise political candidates, issues or political parties, except that public buildings may be made available to all political candidates on an equal basis for the purposes of introducing candidates for public office to the general public and the conduct of the business of any political party in compliance with the following procedure: Application shall be made seven calendar days prior to the proposed use to the city manager. The seven-day application period may be waived by the city manager where it can be shown that no inconvenience or disruption of normal public activities in such building will occur.
(b) This section shall apply to all elections and political activities conducted in the city.
Sec. 50-27 of the City Code - Merchandising, advertising, signs.
·       c)  Unless otherwise expressly permitted by this Code, no person shall paste, glue, tack or otherwise post any sign, placard, advertisement or inscription whatever, nor shall any person erect or cause to be erected any sign whatever on any public lands such as parks, beaches, athletic fields, trees or roads adjacent to a park.
Sec. 66-8 of the City Code - Obstructions.
It shall be unlawful for any person to place on any sidewalk, street, right-of-way or alley in the city any object which may obstruct the safe and convenient use of the same by vehicles and pedestrians, including, but not limited to, any fence, gate, porch, step, post, barrel, bench, bar, table, box, carriage, buggy, wagon, merchandise, goods, wares or other fixtures or articles whatsoever, whether they be for sale, exhibition or any other purpose

In summary, permits are required for political activities conducted in public buildings.  City Manager approval of activities conducted outdoors on public land is required to ensure compliance with the provisions above, as well as to ensure public safety and fair access to all.  
We apologize for any inconvenience. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Me, again. Here is the attachment, which is the same document our group received from the first library we dismissed from on Sunday. I will copy my reply to my next post

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