Scottsdale Citizen-Advocate Silenced and Arrested at City Council Meeting

by John Washington on February 8, 2017

It was reported to me last night that at the direction of Scottsdale mayor Jim Lane, fellow resident advocate Mark Stuart was cut off during remarks to the city council about the proposed multi-million dollar “Desert Discovery Center,” during the “public comment” period of last night’s council meeting.

The live broadcast of the city council meeting was discontinued, and Lane had Mark arrested.
Mark was apparently injured at some point during the arrest, transport to, and/or detention in the Scottsdale city jail.

Council members Kathy Littlefield and Guy Phillips have not responded to my email requests for more information. A representative of the city attorney’s office has acknowledged my request for an unedited version of the meeting video, but I have not received it yet.

Obviously I am very concerned about the violation of the right of free speech and right to petition guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, regardless of how irritating a citizen may be to city officials.

Many concerned citizens have stood at the Kiva podium over the years to express their displeasure with, AND support of various mayors and council members.

But this is a new low in the democratic governance of Scottsdale, and surely a bad omen of things-to-come during Jim Lane’s final term as mayor. Heaven help the whole state if he gets elected or appointed to a higher office.

You can email the city council at

CityCouncil@ScottsdaleAZ.gov

Update: Mark was released from the Scottsdale city jail to the hospital where he was evaluated for minor injuries, and he’s free now.

The portion of the city council broadcast leading up to Lane having Mark escorted from the podium can be seen via post on the NoDDC Facebook page. Lane orders the broadcast terminated before Mark is escorted out of the Kiva.

I have submitted a public records request for the unedited video and will post it when I have prepared it.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Norton February 8, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Milhaven bullies a 13 year old girl with a public shaming in the Arizona Republic.

Korte libels and defames Howard Myers in the “Voice of Scottsdale” e-shame-blast.

Lane sicks his lawyers on Jason Alexander and NoDDC’s website

And now Stuart gets cuffed, roughed up, and hauled off.

How much uglier and nastier can the DDCSI crowd get?

And note this – not once – not ever – have the bullies ever accepted my standing offer to debate publicly the DDC issue on my own, 10 on 1, or in a panel. Calling out a bully is always the best way to deal with them. This is one of those time.

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Bob Littlefield February 8, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Rampant abuse of power by Lane, exactly as I predicted during the campaign would happen if he were re-elected. Goes along nicely with the abuses of power by Milhaven and Korte. These people will sink to any depth to stay in power.

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Jason Alexander February 8, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Video snipped from the city’s official record.

https://vimeo.com/203192177

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steve lowen February 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Russia, China…..no, Scottsdale.
Outrageous.

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Chris Schaffner February 8, 2017 at 11:10 pm

A government official’s justification to infringe on the political speech of a citizen carries an extremely high burden of proof under our constitution. A homeowner using deadly force against a minor probably has a lower burden of proof to justify their actions than a government official removing a citizen from a public microphone while they are engaged in political speech.

The First Amendment was specifically aimed at protecting political speech even at the monumental costs of having to tolerate unbridled hate, prejudice, bigotry, obscenity, etc., and dancing all over the edges of defamation, libel, and slander.

I saw Mr. Washburn’s letter. I’ll assume he was sandbagging this. Surely, he will walk into a courtroom with way more than that letter.

Mr. Washburn said the Council has no jurisdiction over the obtaining of signatures so they must silence Mr. Stuart. Signatures were just a vehicle. Mr. Stuart was informing the public how he using a legal process to oppose an expected government action by THAT VERY government body. It was wholly appropriate for the public and that body to hear his comments.

Secondly on jurisdiction, I have attended and spoken at countless Council meetings. There have been hours of public comment on items that actually were truly out of the City’s jurisdiction. I have never heard the “jurisdiction” theory cited a single time, let alone used to remove someone. It seems that point would be very likely to come up in a courtroom.

Then there was the influencing an election comment. Which election? There is no planned election at this time. Second, again, having spoken at, and attended Council meetings for many years, I have heard hours of public comment on items that actually were on existing ballots. These include multiple bonds and General Plan Amendments. I have never seen anyone chastised (nor removed) for speaking on those items. This is likely to come up in a courtroom as well.

And the use of Public funds? Please. What funds? If Mr. Stuart had not showed up at all, the city would not be one cent richer.

Mostly, I just don’t get this. Who cares what Mr. Stuart had to say? Why risk running afoul of the First Amendment over this. If a judge says the City Attorney and Mayor were within their rights, what do they win? They silence a single private and mostly unknown citizen?

If it goes to court and they lose… their jobs, reputations, and maybe more are at great risk.

The reward of shutting up Mr. Stuart seems foolish, petty, trivial, and unnecessary compared to the risk of being found to have violated a citizen’s First Amendment rights.

The Mayor and City Attorney have to know this is going to court.

If you had to go to court over a First Amendment issue, would you want to be a government official that silenced a private citizen engaged in political speech, or an individual who simply tried to talk when called upon during public comment?

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