So remember a couple of years ago when some non-incumbent candidates running for political office were barred from participating in the Mayor’s 4th of July Parade if they didn’t censor their entries?
For those new to the site or have short memories, let me refresh it for you. This was during a hot election year with a lot at stake. The sitting Mayor at that time, Beverly Johnson, was terming out and so there was an open Mayor’s seat and since another City Councilmember was also termed out there was at least two — if one of the sitting City Councilmembers won the Mayors race — open City Council seats. Suffice it to say, the stakes were pretty high in 2010.
The City Attorney, at that time, Teresa Highsmith, released an opinion that declared that since the City was providing funding to the 4th of July Parade that the Parade Committee could restrict the entries:
The Parade Committee of the Mayor’s 4th of July Parade may restrict entries which advocate the election or reelection of a particular candidate or advocate for or against a local ballot measure, on the basis that such political advocacy is not consistent with the purpose of the traditional home-town, family celebration purpose of the Parade.
Which essentially led to non-incumbent candidates having to censor their entries. So of course the natural question was, who would request such an opinion be written because historically there had never been much in the way of denying people entry into the parade. It’s kind of a free-for-all which is why it’s so fun.
The kicker about what made this whole issue so strange was that no one would take responsibility for actually asking for the opinion in the first place. While former Mayor Beverly Johnson insisted to KPIX news (video here) that the parade committee asked for the opinion:
The Parade Committee asked for an opinion from the City Attorney and the City Attorney’s opinion was that it was certainly appropriate to not allow candidates campaigning in the parade. And I agree with that because we want to keep it a community event, not a campaigning event.
The Parade Committee chairwoman told Dan Wood of A Progressive Alamedan that the Parade Committee has done no such thing:
Parade committee chair Barbara Price, in an e-mail to me, denied that the committee had the authority to make such a request and that somebody else directed the ruling.
And the City Attorney at that time also noted that:
The City Attorney does not issue opinions to the public, including a non-City department.
So it’s sort of been a big fat question mark for a long time of who requested that the opinion be issued in the first place which led to censorship in a 4th of July parade. And guess what folks, I finally got my answer and it only took two years to get it. Yay!
Here is a screen shot from my email box of the response from our new City Attorney Janet Kern:
I’m sure that now Councilmember Beverly Johnson will have a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why she didn’t just fess up two years ago as to making the request for the opinion in the first place. The mystery of who asked for the City Attorney opinion that led to Parade-gate has now been solved.