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Rob Means attracted media attention for posting a sign in his yard (as pictured below). After receiving notice from the City of Milpitas to remove the sign, Rob resisted those efforts to restrict his freedom "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." This matter should have been quickly resolved after receiving Mr. Means' first e-mail response sent on Dec. 8, 2011. Read from that e-mail below the picture - then learn how your tax dollars were subsequently wasted!

Throughout the history of this country, the Supreme Court has liberally interpreted - and strongly supported - our First Amendment rights to free political speech. Were the courts to examine this case and this sign, I believe they would find that my right to free speech trumps the City's right to regulate "all signs which are publicly displayed".

As a taxpayer and 34-year citizen of Milpitas, I would prefer staff time be used for better purposes than acting as the intermediary for someone in our community that seemingly doesn't like me or my message. This smells like someone either looking for a proxy (the City) to remove my sign or playing the classic "let's you and him fight" game. In either case, you have the power to stop the game.

If pressed, I will defend my free speech rights, possibly through an "in pro per" filing for injunctive relief or simply by taking the issue to the public. Although I have many other projects that require my time, defending Constitutional rights takes precedence.

I apologize for the time and effort required to address this issue and hope we can quickly resolve it.

Sincerely, Rob Means

Unfortunately, the City did not respond well to this non-violent resistance. Instead of re-assessing their position over the course of several months, they maintained that the sign must be removed. Even when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pointed out their error and the fact that courts had already settled this matter, the City pressed on. For more background, check the following references.

Ultimately, the court ordered the City to pay the ACLU legal costs of $20,000, and to change the ordinance. As of April 14, 2016, the ordinance has not been changed.



Rob Fights For Democracy

After the City of Milpitas passed new water rates, discontented members of our community started a petition and gathered enough signatures to qualify a measure for the November 2016 ballot. Then the Council stopped the process.

Rob saw that August 2, 2016 City Council decision (page 10) as a violation of the initiative process. That democratic process of putting something on the ballot empowers people to pass their own rules if their elected representative don't do the job.

So, he sued the City. Here are the various filings:

Legal precedence allows an illegal measure to be withheld from the ballot. Following that logic leads one to part of a sentence in the Proposition 218 language, specifically (California Constitution, Article XIII C, Section 3):

"... the initiative power shall not be prohibited or otherwise limited in matters of reducing or repealing any local tax, assessment, fee or charge."
Since the new water rate schedule proposed by the petition substituted one schedule for another, it "amended" or "replaced" the original ordinance, but did not "reduce" or "repeal" the original rates. Since amend/replace is not covered by this part of Prop. 218, one could conclude that the amending petition was illegal and, therefore, prohibiting it from the ballot an appropriate action.

Rather than argue that the initiative process trumps this narrow interpretation of its scope, Rob and the City agreed to disagree.

The primary lesson to learn from this: corporate interests screwed us again! It was corporate interests that wrote, promoted, and ultimately conned 56% of voters into passing Prop. 218.

Corporate interests tilted the playing field so more money and power flowed from us to them. Their one-sided language makes it easy to reduce taxes and difficult to raise or change taxes. That makes Prop. 218 another example, along with Prop. 13, of corporate-created rules that reduce the power of our government - of We the People - and increase the power of corporations.

Remember, we create governments to accomplish goals that make our lives better. To do that, governments need the power to control corporations that threaten our general welfare. Clearly, corporations have grown too powerful. Their insatiable greed is destroying our planet and the future of our children and grandchildren.

To regain control of corporations and restore our democracy, we need a Constitutional Amendment that says corporations are not people and money is not speech. Then we can regulate dark money that is causes politicians to deny Global Warmibng and create rules that redistribute money from the poor to the rich. Learn more at https://scc-mta.org/



Contact Webmaster Rob Means at 408-262-8975, Rob@MeansForDemocracy.org
    1421 Yellowstone Avenue, Milpitas, CA 95035