Beware: City Trying To Limit
By Stephen M. Lawton
you picked up your latest copy of MicroTimes? Of course you did
you're reading it right now. But if you live or work in the City
of San Francisco, finding MicroTimes, along with a number of other
newspapers and magazines, could become much more difficult in the future.
Once again San Francisco is toying
with an idea that strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment. The
proponents of the bid to install pedestal-based news racks with limited
slots for publications claim they will clear the streets of unsightly
racks and give pedestrians more room to walk. They also claim this does
not limit freedom of speech. How can you say you support freedom of speech
when you limit the number of voices that can be heard?
Proponents of this proposal say they
will remove eyesores from the city streets. Maybe so, but at what cost?
Not all publications will be guaranteed slots to hold their papers. Sure,
readers need access to the Chronicle and Examiner, but what
about the other publications that serve the residents and businesses of
the city; publications like MicroTimes.
The proposal states the city-approved
pedestals will have reserved spots for publications that publish more
often than bi-weekly. They have all kinds of proposals concerning how
the city will designate which publications get access to the pedestals
all in wonderful legalese. The bottom line, however, is that the
magazines vying for slots will have to go through a lottery. The chances
of winning: About one in 50. Is it unthinkable for a magazine or newspaper
that serves this market to be completely shut out of this lottery? When
was the last time you hit the jackpot in the Lotto?
This proposal means publishers will
no longer have the ability to serve their San Francisco readers the way
they see fit. It means your voice the voice of the reader
might not be heard in your own community.
Why is this important to readers in
Milpitas or Mission Viejo? Because, good friends, you might be next! This
is one of those times. This is one of those issues. This is the time to
put pen to paper and fingers to keyboards and write to your city council
and board of supervisors to protest the actions being considered in San
Francisco. Even if you don't live here, this is a first amendment right
that must be protected.
You need to take action now. You can
send e-mail to the San Francisco's supervisors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Ammiano is the board president; you can reach him directly at Tom_Ammiano@ci.sf.ca.us.
The San Francisco Department of Public Works (www.sfdpw.com)
is holding public hearings on this proposal. According to the DPW's Web
site, the contact for the News Rack Advisory Committee is Committee Chair
Daniel Brugmann, who can be reached at (415) 554-6917. The Web site also
offers this e-mail address: email@example.com.
Now's the time to act, people. If
you wait, your city could be next.