Heil Signer: Charlottesville Mayor’s new totalitarian police state

| June 26, 2016 | 7 Comments

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Just months after being warned that his new City Council meeting procedures are unconstitutional Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer has doubled down on their enforcement.

At the June 20 Charlottesville City Council meeting, Signer unjustly exercised his unwarranted police powers at least twice and in doing so, clearly has violated the United States Constitution.

The first instance involved, citizen John Heyden, who dared inquire about the Council’s vote to give more than $250,000 of taxpayer monies to Barack Obama’s Organizing for America adjunct, Virginia Organizing, without an opportunity for public comment. (n.b. Virginia Organizing is headed by Joe Szakos, husband of Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos, who recused herself from the discussion but obviously was delighted when the measure passed.)

When Heyden persistently questioned the lack of public input on the issue, Mayor Signer ordered a reluctant Charlottesville Police Officer to remove Heyden from the chambers. Mr. Heyden passively resisted. And although the city’s directorially edited broadcast video leads viewers to the conclusion that Heyden was, in fact, removed, exclusive Schilling Show footage below shows that he remained.

Things did not go so well for citizen Joe Draego.

In the first public comment segment of the evening, Draego, again warned the Charlottesville City Council about an imminent Islamic threat to Charlottesville and the nation. In doing so, he graphically referenced a recently reported Twin Falls, Idaho story in which Muslim refugee boys brutally assaulted a local five-year-old girl.

Draego was interrupted by councilor Kristin Szakos, who without authority and in violation of the Council’s own rules censured the speaker for his choice of words. Draego vigorously defended himself from Szakos’ attack, but she succeeded in derailing his comments and diminishing his speaking time. (See video below for interaction between Draego and Szakos.)

At the meeting’s final public comment segment Mr. Draego returned to continue his remarks on the dangers of Islam. Shortly after commencement, a visibly shaken Michael Signer interrupted Draego and asked him to cease, citing a violation of Council rules that prohibit “defamatory” speech against “groups or individuals.” Signer then requested a vote of council to “remove” Draego and the other councilors affirmed the request.

Referencing his First Amendment rights to free speech, Draego continued, at which time Signer summoned police to the podium to remove Draego, who had assumed a prostate position. Two Charlottesville Police officers then removed Joe Draego from the room. (See Draego’s remarks and removal below.)

On March 9, 2016, Rutherford Institute President and Founder, and noted civil liberties attorney, John Whitehead, admonished Signer and the Charlottesville City Council in a memo entitled, Re: Council Meeting Procedures Passed on February 16, 2016.

In his well-documented warning to council, Whitehead specifically referenced Signer’s “defamatory attacks” provision as “viewpoint discrimination” and therefore contrary to the United States Constitution:

Council also has declared that “improper comments . . . are not permitted,” including “vulgar language” and “defamatory attacks on individuals or groups.”

Plainly, these terms are ambiguous and vague, vesting the Council with a power of censorship that violates the First Amendment. A fundamental constitutional principle is that laws and rules must not grant unfettered discretion to a governmental person or entity to determine what may or may not be said in a public forum. Vesting the government with standardless discretion gives it the power to discriminate against unpopular viewpoints. This is precisely the danger to the rights of citizens created by the “improper comments” rule; the words “vulgar” and “defamatory” are so ambiguous that there is a real danger that Council could use the rule to silence speakers for viewpoint discriminatory reasons. Indeed, this rule would have a chilling effect on speech of legitimate relevance to a public meeting as speakers seek to avoid making “improper comments.”

This threat of censorship is contrary to the First Amendment because it allows for censorship of speech by government officials on the basis of disagreement with the speaker’s message. [emphasis added]

Whitehead was not the only critic of Mayor Signer’s speech curtailment. Community activist, Nikuyah Walker called the rules an emerging “tyranny.” And local attorney, Jeff Fogel, who has legally challenged Charlottesville City over several violations, was highly critical of Signer’s rules, classifying him as “reminiscent of an authoritarian.”

Delusionally fashioning himself as a modern-day James Madison, Signer has defended his draconian rules during a public discussion on their implementation as something that Madison would have endorsed.

Signer’s façade of control is exhibiting stress cracks, as several citizens whose rights were abridged by the mayor and his council are seeking legal redress. In the meantime; however, under the effective dictatorship of Mayor Mike Signer, Charlottesville city hall has become a totalitarian police state where a viewpoint-centered “no-speak zone” is ruthlessly enforced and the First Amendment is merely an afterthought.

About the Author:

Rob Schilling is founder of The Schilling Show Blog and News; host of WINA's The Schilling Show, heard weekdays from noon to 2 PM; husband; father; and community watchdog.
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7 Comments on "Heil Signer: Charlottesville Mayor’s new totalitarian police state"

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  1. John Heyden says:

    On the one hand, I don't like to put the police officers in a position of having to carry out heavy handed and unconstitutional orders handed down from the throne of "King Michael" but having suffered the wrath of the Kouncil Kabal in the past I can tell you under these radical ideologs peoples rights are little by little being taken away by people who don't just disagree with your point of view but don't want you to be allowed to express your questions or concerns.

    So here are a few questions that had i had the opportunity ask would have been this…
    Do you think it is legal for a select group of politicians to decide amongst themselves to make a GIFT of a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS of TAXPAYERS DOLLARS to a Democratic political organization, of which the husband of a city councilor runs it? And we are threatened with arrest for questioning this?

    Also Was this a GIFT, or does the city and the taxpayers get a lein on the property for our money?
    What happens when and if the property is ever sold, if the taxpayers have no leinholder rights then does Virginia Organizing or Joe and Kristen Szakos get to put that money in their pocket?

    Are we witnessing our local version of "The Clinton Foundation"?
    As far as i'm concerned this is out and out THEIVERY by KROOKED KRISTEN….

  2. This is Blaine not Kim, Signer seems to think he is Madison, when in action, he is doing a fine job becoming Stalin, Hitler or any other dictator from the past 100 years!

  3. Ken says:

    Unbelievable. Signer and Szakos are the grown-ups here. First Draego plays a teenager whining that Mommy’s being inconsistent, as if she doesn’t have a good and obvious reason. Then he plays a 2-year old, flopping on the floor when he doesn’t get his way.

    Was there ever the slightest chance his antics would change the councilors’ minds? Of course not. But that sit-in John Lewis led in Congress last week was a “stunt,” right guys?

  4. Gary says:

    Time to forward this to “60 Minutes” or a similar news magazine and suggest they do an expose on the state of free speech in Jefferson Country and the cradle of the U.S. Constitution.

  5. The irony is that this councilwoman's husband, Joe Szakos, brags about getting arrested at Blue Cross Blue Shield for questioning a rate hike. Then, his shamelessly crooked wife and her cronies have this guy removed for his legitimate concerns over the lack of public input on this $250k waste of taxpayer money. These pinko losers disgust me.

  6. I gettnig pretty tired of all of this. If I can figure out a way to fight it, I will make it end.

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