Minnema Carries Gay Rights Flag for Group Harassing Dixon Businesses
Despite spending almost two hours hearing protests against Vice Mayor Ted Hickman – and a packed council chambers with an overflow crowd outside – the City Council last Tuesday night actually made major decisions and actions.
Even in the consent calendar, the council advanced efforts to upgrade city streets by authorizing $45,000 to buy a 4-ton asphalt roller.
For economic growth, the council voted unanimously for an ordinance exempting new locally owned businesses from business license fees for their first year in business. The ordinance resulted from a pilot program previously adopted, which proved successful in helping small new businesses get off the ground.
The council also gave initial approval of permanently waiving business license fees for business operated by minors, such as lemonade stands and similar enterprises.
On the issue of Marijuana businesses, the council passed an ordinance with additional restrictions on a 3-2 vote. Voting Yes were councilmembers Devon Minnema and Ted Hickman, plus Mayor Thom Bogue. the No votes were from Councilman Steve Bird and Scott Pederson. This means that, for now, marijuana businesses can legally operate. Everyone knows how popular both medical and recreational marijuana are, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see more and more people contacting a cannabis consultant in order to create a successful marijuana business while they have the chance.
The council also voted 3-2 to place a proposed 1/2 cent local sales tax on the November ballot. Mayor Bogue, Bird and Hickman voted yes. Pederson and Minnema voted No. During the discussions the idea of raising the rate to a full cent was proposed – but dropped as unlikely to win voter approval.
Because the funds raised would be ear-marked to street maintenance, a Yes vote of 2/3rds of the voters is required for passage. Hickman’s argument for is the money is needed and has to be paid by local property owners or largely by people from other communities buying gas, fast food, hotel rooms and vehicles. The argument against by Pederson is no new taxes are needed, that growth, current funds, and grants will provide sufficient funds.
The council also agreed to a contract for new Fire Chief Greg Lewis. He has been with the Dixon Fire Department for over 30 years, has served as Interim Acting Fire Chief currently and during previous vacancies in the Chief slot.
For school safety, the council approved an additional Police School Resource Officer position, to allow a presence at CA Jacobs junior high school and rotating to all other schools in Dixon. The city already has one Resource Officer assigned to Dixon High School, through an agreement with the school board.
All those actions between two sessions of Public Comment, consuming over two hours of council time – almost all of which was strong criticism of Vice Mayor Hickman for his column on October 29 calling for July to be Straight Proud American Month, in counterpoint to June which was widely declared LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
In that column, Hickman described some of the exhibitionist activities at Pride Parades which were broadcast. He stated he supports their rights to do so, and then included what is a word considered derogatory nickname for homosexuals, but which is commonly used amongst those persons themselves.
Protestors filled the council chambers and overflowed outside, where city officials had set up monitors and speakers to accommodate the expect large crowd.
At the beginning of the council meeting, Vice-Mayor Hickman read a statement regarding the controversy about his column proposing making July “Straight Proud American Month.”
In that statement he said: “I didn’t give up my first amendment rights when I became an elected official, to the contrary, I – like you – swore to uphold the constitution – which includes the First Amendment.
“I have written a newspaper column, here in Dixon, with the name “That’s Life” for over 50 years … and I don’t read my stuff when it comes out in print; why would I?
“This week will be the 736th consecutive week in this newspaper; that’s over 1 million words and over 14 years of having anew and different column each and every week.
“After the furor caused by the 735th (last week) I actually read what I had in print and on line. If I were to re-wind time and were to write the column again I would not use the words (sarcastically or not) of vice mayor, because I see where that may be unacceptable to some. That is all I have today.”
Because of the number of people wanting to speak, the time allowed for each person was limited to two minutes. While the majority of the crowd was people from outside Dixon – due to a concerted Social Media campaign by gay rights activists, most of the speakers were from Dixon. That SM campaign has included numerous calls harassing local businesses who advertise in this newspaper, which carries Hickman’s “That’s Life: Column. Even churches were among the targets of the campaign.
Fox 40 News (Sacramento) did an investigation of those tactics, contacting seven advertisers – six of whom confirmed they had been subjected to pressure to stop advertising. The Fox 40 report also played part of a long abusive phone call to the newspaper, which included obscenities and threats to destroy the paper.
Besides threatening businesses and churches, there have been attacks on the Dixon Community Christmas program, which Hickman founded and has coordinated for the past 42 years – which helps hundreds of needy Dixon area families – with no criterion other than need. Hickman’s critics even tried to persuade another organization which donates toys for the program to stop making those toy donations.
City Councilman Devon Minnema made it clear he has taken up the banner of the gay rights movement – wearing a rainbow colored gay rights necktie and placing a Rainbow Gay Pride flag on the dais in front of him. Minnema has been instrumental in coordinating the group which has intimidated Dixon businesses, seeking to compel the Independent Voice to either drop Hickman’s writings or face financial ruin.
The many speakers against Hickman described his column as vile, insulting, harmful, and totally unacceptable. But proved the point the Independent Voice is widely read.
While there were some in the audience who supported Hickman, all but one were too intimidated by being out-numbered by the majority of the crowd. Only fellow columnist Mike Ceremello spoke out in Hickman’s defense, saying the real hate was shown by those attacking him.
Numerous postings were made on a Facebook page entitled “Recall Ted Hickman.” Inside this issue is the weekly Musings column which challenges some of the speakers. On page 4 are two letters defending Hickman’s First Amendment rights, plus the text of one of the postings which purportedly describes a phone call to the IV owner – which never took place.
The controversy has gained national attention, including Breitbart News, the Drudge Report, national cable news channels, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, the New York Times, and nationally syndicated talk shows.
The anti-Hickman Social Media comments are readily available. But not yet equally accessible are the comments in his support.
Typical of the supporting comments include these excerpts: “It should seem obvious that everyone is entitled to express his views without fear of “punishment,” and that the ability to do so is what enables the LGTB community to express theirs. Why we tolerate threats from the progressives to suppress others’ freedoms, while enabling their freedoms, is a curiosity. The only antidote is to demonstrate with clarity that they are no more entitled to be heard than people with other views. And yes, ALL lives matter.”