A January 31 “Capital of the Resistance” rally in downtown Charlottesville, convened by Mayor Michael Signer, was held without a permit, according to City spokesperson, Miriam Dickler—and apparently without the payment of legally codified costs and fees.
Media reports estimated attendance anywhere from “several hundred” to seven hundred people.
City “Standard Operating Procedures” policy #100-04, “Special Events Regulation” stipulates:
- That the process is in place to “…ensure public convenience in the use of city streets and outdoor areas, the preservation of public order and safety, and the defraying of administrative expenses associated with certain types of uses.” [Section 1.0 Purpose]
- That the City Manager (Maurice Jones) is responsible for managing such events, and that City departments (police, fire, public works, and Neighborhood Development Services) review event applications. [Section 2.0 City Departments/Organizations Affected]
- That Signer’s event would likely be classified a “demonstration” or “non-commercial expression protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (such as picketing, political marches, speechmaking, vigils, walks, etc.) conducted on public property; the conduct of which has the effect, intent or propensity to draw a crowd…” [Section 3.1.3 Definitions]
- That an event of this magnitude “may be held only pursuant to a permit issued by the Events Coordinator…” [Section 3.2 Permit Requirements]
- That applications for events on the Downtown Mall be submitted in writing at least 10 business days “in advance of any proposed demonstration…” [Section 3.3.2 Permit Applications]
- That a permit application fee be paid “by the sponsor of every proposed demonstration…” [Section 3.4.3]
- That “all City ordinances and State statutes limiting the use or obstruction of fire lanes, emergency routs and pedestrian walkways must be observed. No person(s) participating in a demonstration…shall block any entrances to or exits from City buildings…” [Section 3.5.3 No Impediments to Public Access]
- That prior to the commencement of the event, “Sponsors of demonstrations for which a permit is required shall be required to indemnify and hold harmless the City…” and “shall furnish a general liability and property damage insurance contract insuring the Sponsor’s liability” in “an amount not less than $1,000,000…” [Section 3.5.4 Indemnification and Insurance]
- That sound amplification is permitted only if “prior notice has been given to the Events Coordinator…” [Section 3.5.7 Sound Amplification]
- That “The Sponsor of every special event shall be required to pay (in advance) a fee for cleanup costs…” [Section 3.5.13 Sanitation and Garbage]
- That “Sponsors must pay an Electricity Fee to the City, in advance.” [Section 3.5.14 Electricity]
- That “Sponsor will be billed per hour for each officer actually utilized…” based on “circumstances of the event” and “based on the regular hourly rates of salaries for the police personnel utilized.” [Appendix A]
In addition to numerous likely violations of City regulations and missed payment of obligatory fees, Signer appears to have utilized City resources, including the email and paid time of City Council Clerk, Paige Rice, in the coordination of his event. At 2:29 PM on January 30, Rice emailed the following “Media Advisory,” listing herself as the contact person for Signer’s event:
From: “Rice, Paige” <email@example.com>
Subject: MEDIA ADVISORY: Mayor to Convene Faith, Civic Leaders outside City Hall *THIS TUES at 12PM*
Date: January 30, 2017 at 02:29:16 PM EST
Contact: Paige Rice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 30, 2017
Signer calls on residents to defend American values, declares City a “Capital of the Resistance”
Mayor to convene faith, civic leaders for announcement Tuesday
CHARLOTTESVILLE — On Tuesday, January 31, Mayor Mike Signer will convene area leaders and a growing number of Charlottesville residents for a special announcement and rally outside City Hall. The purpose of the event is to send a clear signal to all those alarmed by the recent Executive Order of President Donald Trump.
Signer and numerous religious and civic leaders of Charlottesville hope to offer a bulwark against fear, division, and uncertainty in the wake of the president’s action last Friday, and in light of Trump’s call for “a ban on all Muslims entering the country,” during his election campaign.
“Our strength lies in our values of diversity, tolerance, and shared humanity,” said Signer. “Charlottesville, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, must stand up for these American values and be a Capital of the Resistance.”
WHEN: Tuesday, January 31st at 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Charlottesville City Hall, 605 E. Main Street, Downtown Mall entrance
WHO: In addition to the mayor, speakers include:
Khizr Khan, Esq., Gold Star Families
Karim Ginena, Islamic Society of Central Virginia
Harriet Kuhr, International Rescue Committee
Pam Northam, Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Rabbi Tom Gutherz, Congregation Beth Israel
Pastor Alvin Edwards, Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church
Reverend Elaine Ellis Thomas, St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church
Jeffrey W. Legro, Vice Provost for Global Affairs & Taylor Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia
Charlottesville is home to a major office of the International Rescue Committee and to hundreds of political refugees who have fled oppression in their home countries for the safety and security of American democracy.
“I have met with dozens of political refugees, recent immigrants, and university students who identify as Muslim or hail from the countries targeted by the executive order,” said Signer.
“They have expressed confusion about the implications for their immigration status, concern about whether they have simply escaped from one tyranny to another, and fear about whether the United States remains, in the poet Emma Lazarus’ words, a place that embraces ‘your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’.”
At the event, Mayor Signer will announce* plans to:
1. Work with Virginia’s Congressional delegation to get specific help for Charlottesville’s immigrant and refugee community regarding urgent visa and travel questions
2. Join Cities for Action’s coalition of mayors demanding progress on immigration issues
3. Ask Charlottesville’s City Manager to advise City Council on legal and policy options to provide added protections for immigrants and political refugees
4. Ask Charlottesville’s Human Rights Commission to address issues of xenophobia and religious intolerance
*Mayor Signer will be speaking in his individual capacity, as one elected member of City Council, not for City Council as a whole.
For updates, follow Mayor Mike on Twitter @mikesigner and Facebook
# # #
(434) 284-2588 (m)
Clerk of Council
In a February 14 email to The Schilling Show, Signer pled ignorance and contradicted fact:
From: “Signer, Mike” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Media Inquiry: Event Permit
Date: February 14, 2017 at 10:32:09 AM EST
To: “Schilling, Rob”
Cc: “Dickler, Miriam” <email@example.com>, “Jones, Maurice” <MJONES@CHARLOTTESVILLE.ORG>
No City personnel were involved in the planning or execution of the press conference. It was assembled and run by volunteers, many coming together at the last minute. Even the podium and mic and speakers were brought by volunteers. The event was intended as a standard press conference at the Free Speech Wall, which typically do not require permits. That event grew quickly and spontaneously in part due to the publicity by several of the speakers’ organizations, including the churches and the IRC.
I was frankly stunned by the huge, spontaneous turnout on such short notice, which I think is evidence of how strongly folks feel about standing up for American values against the combination of intolerance and incompetence seen in the recent executive order, which has now been stayed by multiple federal courts on Constitutional grounds. [emphasis added]
Mayor Mike Signer
City of Charlottesville
A World-Class City
Mayor Signer’s statement was deceptive at best.
No City personnel? The Charlottesville Police Department confirmed to The Schilling Show that they had assigned “10 police officers and 2 Community Service Officers” to the event, for about an hour and a half (approximately 18 man-hours); this, in addition to Signer’s use of City Council Clerk , Paige Rice, as an official “contact” for the press conference.
As to the Mayor’s claim that he was “stunned by the huge, spontaneous turnout,” a Facebook event page, set up by Signer himself, indicated that 487 people had confirmed attendance in advance, and 951 people were “interested” in attending. Signer certainly had information available indicating this would be a very large event. (See graphic below.)
All tolled, Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer may have bilked his own citizens out of hundreds of dollars in delineated fees and payments, and he may have inappropriately utilized City staff to promote a non-City event.
But there may be a legal price ($250)—outside of the pro forma financial costs—for such wanton disregard of rules and laws. According to Charlottesville Code:
(a) No parade or procession of any kind shall be held or conducted in any city rights-of-way without first obtaining a permit from the city manager.
(b) The city manager is authorized to require permits for the use of city rights-of-way for special events and community events (as defined within section 28-29(c) of the City Code), and for other activities that may affect the safety or convenience of the general public. The city manager is authorized to promulgate regulations to govern the time, place and manner of such activities, and to establish reasonable fees, charges and rentals therefor. A violation of any of the rules and regulations established hereunder shall constitute a Class 4 misdemeanor. [emphasis added]
Given these facts:
Will Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer pay the costs (in arrear) that any average citizen or organization would bear (in advance) for holding such an event?
Will Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer issue an apology to his constituents for violating their trust (and potentially, the law)?
Or will lawlessness, oligarchy, cronyism, demagoguery, chaos, inequity, mobocracy, and double-standards continue to prevail in Michael Signer’s Charlottesville—the self-declared “Capital of the Resistance.”