By Matt Artz
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 7:03 am in Fremont Library.
From our very own Walter Stanley III:
I wanted to bring to your attention something that has occurred in the last couple of days regarding an infringement on the free speech rights of the Alameda County Republican Party. As Acting Chairman of the ACRP, I called a Special Meeting to be held on July 6, 2009 in order to hold an election for the chairmanship. The ACRP has been without an elected chairman for over three months now since Karen Wind’s resignation back in March.
I scheduled the Special Meeting at the Alameda County Library in Fremont. Today, I was notified by the Director of the Alameda County Library, Jean Hofacket (510-745-1501), that our meeting was canceled based on a report that the meeting is not open to the public. I immediately assured Ms. Hofacket that the Special Meeting is indeed open to the public and have directed her to the official ACRP website where it says as much ( http://www.alamedagop.org/events/ ) along with our Meetup Group as well ( http://www.meetup.com/alamedacountygop/calendar/10765569/ ). I also reminded her that the Peace and Freedom Party Central Committee of San Francisco meets at the main San Francisco library ( http://www.peaceandfreedom.org/home/pfp-net/counties-and-chapters/san-francisco-county ) and the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee meets at the San Leandro library. ( http://www.acdems.org/calendar.php ) Nonetheless, she has refused to let the ACRP meet at the Fremont library on July 6th.
As I’m sure you are aware Ms. Hofacket’s refusal is a violation of the ACRP’s free speech rights since she is acting on behalf of a governmental entity. Among other things, preventing the ACRP from meeting will irreparably harm the ACRP, as well as, the public and would constitute a prior restraint of speech and association that would violate the United States Constitution and California Constitution. The ACRP’s fundamental political speech and associational activities are at stake as the ACRP’s meeting is undeniably a political affair protected by the First Amendment against governmental interference.
This prohibition also could be extended to meetings of our grass roots Assembly District Caucus Committees, which have met in that same library in the past, thus inhibiting us from growing the party. Further, California Elections Code explicitly permits the use of State buildings, so this policy by Alameda County prohibiting (Republican) County Committees from meeting in their County libraries is contrary to what is permitted by State law.
I hope you will see this as a threat not only to the ACRP but also to the California Republican Party as it creates a precedent that could severely infringe on the CRP’s rights in the future. To that end I ask that you intervene to the extent possible so that the ACRP can hold its Special Meeting at the Fremont library on July 6, 2009. Anything that you can do to ensure the ACRP’s rights to free political speech would be much appreciated.
Walter Stanley III
Alameda County Republican Party Central Committee