Worcester #blacklivesmatter Trial: the notes

posted by Mike on January 7th, 2016

Update Jan 21, 2016: Verdict: Conner, Gibbs, and Jones “adjudicated responsible” and fined $100 each, Ksen “not responsible” and not fined, seeing as how he was in the street only briefly. Here’s the MassLive writeup. I predicted they’d all be found responsible; I was wrong.

The civil disobedience: January 19, 2015 (Martin Luther King Day), around 20 people blocked Worcester’s Kelley Square for 4.5 minutes to represent the 4.5 hours Mike Brown’s body lay in the street in Ferguson. Two months later, 4 of the protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

The trial: began today.

The verdict: was not announced today. It will be mailed to the defendants.

My notes: are below, for what it’s worth.

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Worcester’s third anti-panhandling plan: unconstitutional

posted by Mike on November 9th, 2015

In a decision filed today, US District Court Judge Hillman found both parts of Worcester’s 2013 anti-panhandling plan unconstitutional. [PDF]

The only parts he left stand were the City redefining “traffic island” and a couple other similarly minor changes to Worcester ordinances.

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Ever since the Supreme Court vacated a previous ruling upholding the ordinances, I think we all figured that the time-and-place restrictions, which set up hundreds of areas in the city where you couldn’t ask for help, were probably unconstitutional. I didn’t think the judge would also rule against the traffic safety portion, which says that if a policeman tells you to stop standing around on a traffic island or in the road, you have to get moving. (He technically also struck down the part that deals with actual aggressive behavior, but as he notes there are many other laws against that sort of bad behavior.)

In striking down the first part of the ordinances, the judge writes:

…I find that the entirety of Ordinance 9-16 fails because it is not the least restrictive means available to protect the public and therefore, does not satisfy strict scrutiny. While I find that none of the provisions of Ordinance 9-16 can withstand strict scrutiny as written, the City and other municipalities have raised some legitimate concerns regarding aggressive panhandlers and public safety. Post Reed, municipalities must go back to the drafting board and craft solutions which recognize an individuals to continue to solicit in accordance with their rights under the First Amendment, while at the same time, ensuring that their conduct does not threaten their own safety, or that of those being solicited. In doing so, they must define with particularity the threat to public safety they seek to address, and then enact laws that precisely and narrowly restrict only that conduct which would constitute such a threat.

In striking down the traffic safety portion, he writes, quoting extensively from a ruling on a similar case in Maine:

The City can point to specific medians and traffic islands as to which a pedestrian use should be prohibited in the interest of public safety (the traffic islands and/or medians in Kelly, Newton and Washington Squares come to mind). However, on this record, it has not established the need for the “sweeping ban … it chose.” “ ‘In short, the City has not shown that it seriously undertook to address the problem with less intrusive tools readily available to it.’ Instead, it ‘sacrific[ed] speech for efficiency,’ and, in doing so, failed to observe the ‘close fit between ends and means’ that narrow tailoring demands.”

(Emphasis added and citations deleted above.)

Other coverage:

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508 #269: Why to Vote

posted by Mike on October 28th, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week is our pre-election special. We talk about LARPing ombudsmen, the expected value (in dollars) of your vote, and how to vote strategically in the election.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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Discussion questions:

  • Have any Worcester mayors since 1970 provided more leadership and agenda-setting than the City Manager?
  • Do you think the expected value of a Worcester vote is more or less than $10? Why?
  • In what situations do you think bullet voting makes sense?

508 #268: Candy Mero-Carlson

posted by Mike on October 22nd, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Worcester City Council District 2 challenger Candy Mero-Carlson.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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508 #267: Linda Parham

posted by Mike on October 13th, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Worcester City Council at-large challenger Linda Parham.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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508 #266: Technocopia

posted by Mike on October 1st, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week we visit Technocopia, a Worcester makerspace. Their dream is to move from their Gateway Park location to the Printer’s Building downtown, alongside the Worcester Think Tank and IA Design. You can support this project and also back an open-source robotics project developed there.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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508 #265: Jacqueline Kostas

posted by Mike on September 30th, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Worcester City Council District 4 challenger Jacqueline Kostas.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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Worcester Election Signs, 2015 (part two)

posted by Mike on September 7th, 2015

Some politicos tell me campaign signs are useless. Others tell me they’re a useful part of the overall strategy. Either way, they continue to fascinate me.
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508 #264: How to Vote

posted by Mike on September 3rd, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s Mike and Brendan endorse candidates for the 2015 Preliminary Election, and talk about the best voting strategies.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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508 #263: Carmen Carmona

posted by Mike on August 27th, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Worcester City Council At-Large challenger Carmen Carmona.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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