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Free Speech Squeal Deal:

The case of the Free Speech Coalition against the city of San Antonio will proceed.

Not that there was much doubt that it would. When a federal district judge found the city's parade ordinance unconstitutional and the City set to work amending it. But it didn't ring up the FSC's attorney for advice — or bother to alert the plaintiff in the case against it that the amendments were on the agenda this week.

For that matter, the rewrite was put on the consent agenda, as if anyone in the city chambers believed they would not be challenged on it and have to pull it apart for discussion as happened Thursday.

Getting into the fine print didn't help, as if the first party of the first part gave a shit about the second party of the second part. "No one should be paying for a First Amendment, Free Speech march," International Woman's Day Planning Committee member Genevieve Rodriguez told the council.

Graciela Sanchez took the floor Bob Barker-style, asking each councilmember in turn how much various cities (ie. the big ones: New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, etc.) charged for marches. Though the mood (and the non-number zero) was pretty well established when the talking stick turned to Councilwoman Shiela McNeil, playtime was over in District 2.

"I have no idea," McNeil responded with a complete absense of humor.

For the city's part, it appeared they believed that setting up more consistent guidelines for the police to follow when assessing fees and creating an appeals process for the excluded to wade into settled matters. They voted 5-2, approving the revisions.

And so the federal Free Speech case (and the city's new verbiage) will limp back to federal court for the verdict of U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriquez in October.

Posted by Greg Harman on 3/14/2008
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