Mayor Walkup, in sum and substance: “The Public May No Longer Criticize City Officials at Council Meetings.”
By Roy Warden
On September 07, 2011 the Tucson City Council fired City Manager Mike Letcher, whom Councilwoman Karen Uhlich called a “man of integrity” who was “hired to bring more transparency and openness to city government,” ushering in a new era in Tucson City Politics.
Regarding “transparency and openness to city government,” it only took a week for this new era’s true character to reveal itself.
In a breathtaking usurpation of power, Mayor Walkup, using terms such as “civility in public discourse,” effectively announced on September 13, 2011 that city policy now bans the public from offering any future criticism of Tucson City Officials at city council meetings, effectively suspending the First Amendment.
And 20 minutes later the Tucson Police Department enforced the new policy when, upon Mayor Walkup’s direct command, they stopped the public address of Tucson Activist Roy Warden, arrested him, and removed him from the council chamber.
“It is shocking, stunning,” said Warden afterwards in an interview with KGUN News.
“In one fell swoop, Mayor Walkup overturned 235 years of law, the First Amendment and the fruits of the American Revolution.”
On September 13, Warden began his address by reminding the council of the lawful relationship between government and the people, as set forth in the Arizona Constitution, with the purpose of government being to protect the individual rights of the people.
Warden then turned to the issue of City Manager Richard Miranda, City Attorney Mike Rankin, and the theft of more than half a million dollars of public funds to pay the punitive damages awarded by a federal jury against three Tucson City Officials, including Richard Miranda, in 2006.
It was at this point that Mayor Walkup cut him off.
When Warden tried to read the punitive damage standards set forth in Arizona case law, Mayor Walkup had the police arrest and remove him from the city council chambers.
Outside, TPD Officer Couch aggressively confronted Warden and told him: “Get out of here! You’re just a troublemaker!”
Warden says whether or not the Mayor and City Council has the authority to prohibit public speech they deem to be “uncivil” will be resolved via a Special Action he intends to file in Pima County Superior Court.
Then Warden plans to file a action against Mayor Walkup and Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin in US District Court on the issue of civil rights violations, and damages.
“It’s remarkable,” Warden says.
“The Mayor had me arrested to prevent me from bringing to public view the theft of half a million dollars of public money,” Warden says.
“Now, by his own arrogance and outrageous conduct, he’s given me the power to make a federal case out of it.”
And now the video: