Dixon City Council Chooses to Spend $140 Grand on Retaliation, Not Needed Improvements

During a closed meeting of the Dixon City Council last Tuesday, June 27, a majority chose to continue spending tens of thousands of dollars to defend the political retaliation against Dixon’s Independent Voice (IV), rather than seek a fair settlement with the IV.
Prior to the closed session, IV Publisher Dave Scholl addressed the council noting he has all along urged the council to authorize the City Manager and City Attorney to negotiate such a settlement. He also brought to the council’s attention the US Supreme Court’s 1996 ruling, in a virtually identical situation, that it is a violation of the First Amendment when a local government which denies a contract because of criticism by the person seeking the contract. The decision is known ad “Umbehr 518 U.S., 668 (1996)” and can be found on-line by searching that citation. A video of Scholl’s comments can also be seen on the city’s website.
The city council adopted “poison pill” provisions to prevent the IV from being “qualified” for the contract.
After the closed session City Attorney Doug White announced the city has already spent over $75,000 fighting the IV – over a contract which is for less than $15,000 per year. By refusing to negotiate, the city council majority committed to spending another $70,000 or more in legal fees. City Attorney Doug White firm stands to gain a total of over $140,000 – his take from Dixon this fiscal year is nearing one-million dollars.
For years the IV has consistently submitted the lowest bid – over 30% lower than the competition – with the dramatically higher circulation – over 4 times that of “Brand T.”
The council members voting to spend $140,000 to fight the IV were Mayor Thom Bogue, Vice-Mayor Scott Pederson, and Councilman Steve Bird. While the Brown Act requires the vote in closed session to be reported – including the roll call – the council and City Attorney violated that law and failed to make the vote announcement. The IV endorsed other candidates when each of those three ran for their positions.
Dixon’s Independent Voice has filed an Appeal after Solano County Superior Court Judge Michael Mattice sustained a “Demurrer” submitted by the city’s attorneys to throw out the case. To justify his ruling Mattice wrote that the Independent Voice was NOT engaged in First Amendment activities – although it is adjudicated as a newspaper of general interest and for 22 years has reported upon and opined about politics and government policies.
 

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