NOTE ADDED 18 MAY 2017:
I’m in a publication on the issue:
- “Lexington Park Library Planning Extra Security,” by Joy Shrum, The BayNet (St Mary’s County), 18 May 2017.
By juxtaposition, the publication makes it appear my efforts are in support of those using religious means and flyers to oppose the meeting.
To be clear, I seek to hold the library to its own meeting room policy, especially given the library has violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act. That violation is itself a violation of §23–405(f)(6), a second violation of the law. The library has violated at least two state laws and is about to violate its own meeting room policy. And, as explained below, the BayNet article proves the library board, as represented by the library director, has violated a second library policy.
Of course, it’s too early for official determinations of the various violations to have been made, so naturally this is all my opinion, but you can all read the laws and policies yourselves.
The BayNet article also quotes the library director saying flyers cannot be left on cars due to a solicitation policy. The solicitation is about commercial solicitation and explicitly allows “Non-profit and community organizations, advocacy groups and individuals who wish to distribute flyers, engage in petition drives or advocacy activities….” Only they “must be approved by the Director at least 2 weeks in advance,” which is, as we see in this case, a suppression of free speech. Those flyers are free speech under the First Amendment, raising a public and political issue about the library itself, and the library director is complaining about them and saying, “‘They cannot do that. It’s in violation of our no solicitation policy and we have asked them to stop….'” So we see, yet again, another violation of another library policy.
It’s beginning to become a string of violations.
So the library complains about free speech that it opposes, but doesn’t complain when its own free speech meeting room policy is violated or when various state law is violated.
And notice how the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department is being informed by the library director. That means it is being misinformed. The library, if it goes ahead with the illegal meeting, will be holding illegal meetings, asking St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department to provide security, but not advising that the meeting is illegal as currently constituted.
You see, when you break the law, the crimes just keep piling up. A huge, public relations disaster is rolling downhill and no one’s willing to stop it. If the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department enforces an illegal meeting, whether or not it has or has not been misled by the library director, then it too may have cause for legal concern.
Of course it should provide security, but it should not favor an illegal meeting. Adults should be allowed to attend the meeting, and the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department should help enforce their right to do so, as one possible example.
Lastly, “TheBayNet.com has reached out to SafeLibraries for comment on the pending litigation and has not yet heard back.” I am not aware of such an invitation for comment. A spam filter may have caught it. I can be reached at 973-610-8296.