So, let's amend Richardson's policy to allow electioneering at the Civic Center, so long as it occurs outside the 100 foot boundary state law specifies. Easy peasy. Next issue.On June 14, 2013, the Texas Legislature passed HB 259, thereby amending Section 61.003 and 85.036 of the Texas Election Code by requiring a public entity that controls or owns a building used as a polling place to allow electioneering on the premises, subject to reasonable regulations.
Source: City of Richardson.
Not so fast, says Richardson's City Council. After the jump, their thoughts.
The Richardson City Council deliberated this issue last week.
Scott Dunn considered driving posts into the ground to hold signs to be "destruction of property." (Can't have people destroying dirt).
Steve Mitchell was concerned with those "big giant signs." People "will be putting those in and taking them out every day." (Can't have responsible candidates cleaning up after themselves.)
Mayor Maczka considered electioneering, even beyond that 100 foot boundary, to be activity that isn't "conducive to conducting city business." She considers it to be "distracting to people driving up and down Arapaho and Central." (Can't have voters actually see electioneering, now, can we?)
Steve Mitchell wondered if we just declare the grounds around the Civic Center a "park," whether that would allow us to deny electioneering there? (Can't have people electioneering in public parks, can we?)
Mark Solomon wanted to solve it by eliminating the Civic Center as a polling place. "What if we moved ... early voting to, like, Heights, which has only parking lot?" (Or maybe to a phone booth at a gas station?)
No one, no one, said, hey, the city has bigger issues than how to stop electioneering at the Civic Center. No one said electioneering isn't even a problem at all. It's a good American tradition. No one asked how can we encourage *more* interest in our elections, because they have such low turnout now. It's almost as if our city council feels that elections, candidates, and electioneering are a public nuisance. And that brainstorming ways to stop campaigning on the grass around the Civic Center is worth spending the council's limited meeting time on instead of, say, brainstorming solutions for neighborhood revitalization.
By the way, "electioneering" is one word that doesn't appear anywhere in the recently adopted city vision, goals or strategies. But, then, neither does the word "neighborhood." Nor, for that matter, does "focus."