Despite Million Dollars Cost, Council Gives City Attorney High Marks; Also Votes for “Handbill” Ordinance

The Dixon City Council this past Tuesday gave a near perfect evaluation rating for City Attorney Doug White – discounting the nearly $1 million in billings charged to the city, versus $400,000 which the previous city Attorney charged in his last year. The council did the evaluation in a closed session, using a form with over forty questions, with councilmembers ranking the attorney from 1 to 5. An added twist was that an “outlier” with low rankings would be thrown out of the evaluation.
At the regular open meeting, the council rejected a proposal submitted by the City Attorney to decrease the membership of city commissions from seven to just five. The proposal met with unanimous opposition from the public in attendance – including many current members of the Planning Commission and the Recreation Commission. The council did vote to reduce the Traffic Advisory Committee to just 5.
The most controversial issue was a “Handbill Ordinance” placed on the agenda at the request of Mayor Thom Bogue, and written by the City Attorney. The proposal included newspaper subject to its provisions. It would establish a city list of people who do not want various types of “handbills”, compel handbills print a city written statement, and prevent distribution between 8 pm and 7 am.
Councilman Ted Hickman called out the proposal as a blatant attack on the Independent Voice – as did IV publisher Dave Scholl, who condemned the proposal as a violation of the First Amendment and of the city officials’ oath of office.
Scholl showed a copy of the Sacramento Bee he received that morning, without request – and asked if the provisions would apply to the Bee, the (Marin County owned) Tribune, the Vacaville Reporter, the Davis Enterprise, or the Daily Republic. Predicting there would be selective enforcement, Scholl asserted that would also be unconstitutional. Scholl also showed a “Do Not Deliver” list the IV maintains – which has barely a dozen addresses.
Taken aback by the chastisement, the Mayor and councilman Scott Pederson asserted the proposal was mostly aimed at advertising from Pizza shops, solar panel firms, and landscaping businesses – and even religious materials.
Councilman Devon Minnema successfully insisted the hours limit and the requirement for printing a notice be removed.
Other actions at the meeting included granting $5,000 to the Rotary Club for the annual fireworks display. Two-thousand was also granted to the two day Lamb Festival, which attracts thousands of people from throughout the region to Dixon.
Councilman Minnema had proposals to reduce the fees and regulations on Home based business, such as Tupperware, Mary Kay and consultants. But after lengthy discussion, the rest of the council chose to make no changes.

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