And the day has arrived. We begin shooting at 11 a.m. at Big Hat Books. Big Hat is located at 6510 Cornell Avenue, immediately north of the Brewpub, just north of 65th. Cornell runs parallel to the Monon Trail. For those of you who might not be familiar with Broad Ripple, Google® the address (as I presume you are on a computer if you are reading this blog).
The City of Consolidated Indianapolis and Marion County has, in place, a silly ordinance meant to cater (more accurately kow-tow) to the NFL®. The ordinance places restrictions on "temporary signs." One must apply for a license, pay a fee, pass muster of whomever the Grand Poobah of Signage is for the Super Bowl®. My reading of the ordinance tells me that, in Broad Ripple, the sign must provide at least twenty percent (20%) of its surface area to the event’s logo.
There are time and place restrictions that have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court. Such restrictions are few and strictly construed. The highest form of protected speech is political speech. A person has the most fundamental right to express himself or herself about government action or inaction.
Today, we shall discuss the City’s sign ordinance. A "temporary sign" protesting the ordinance restricting temporary signs is about as pure as speech gets. One might say the City has provided a means by which one may display such a sign. The procedures are right there in the Department of Code Enforcement Information Packet. It is on-line. One can read the requirements, pay a fee, submit the proposed—WAIT! STOP!
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, in relevant part:
"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech..."
Article I, sec. 9 of the Indiana Constitution (Article I is our State’s Bill of Rights) reads:
"No law shall be passed, restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print, freely on any subject whatever: but for the abuse of that right, every person shall be responsible."
There are no asterisks either to the First Amendment or Article I, §9 and a footnote that makes exceptions for the Super Bowl.® To require application for display of a sign constitutes restrain on free speech. To require payment of a fee means the speech no longer is free.
Our guests on today’s program—the first segment of which will be shot at Big Hat—include Pat Andrews, former Democratic candidate for City-County Council, who is quite knowledgeable about finances of the City of Indianapolis. She will describe the ways in which the taxpayers of Indianapolis and Indiana are getting the short end of this NFL® deal on the Super Bowl®. Also, Matt Stone, who ran for City-County Council as a candidate of the Libertarian Party, has very strong views about free expression and will weigh in on the sign ordinance.
After the first segment we shall "go wit the flow," as Ken Kesey once said.
I have a lot of questions about the City’s "deal" with the NFL® for the Super Bowl®. One is: who negotiated this?
Another question: how many members of the City-County Council received free tickets to the Super Bowl®? I understand the Mayor of Indianapolis should attend and not have to pay for a ticket. He represents the City of Indianapolis. But the City-County Council does not need to be there. Tickets for nose-bleed (i.e., last row in the upper deck in an end zone) seats are running just over two grand according to the latest I read here at 6:09 a.m. Average price of a ticket is well over three "large" (as Tony Soprano would say—or would have said, depending upon what happened to him after that last episode). Members of the City-County Council are elected public officials. Is there an appearance of impropriety when a City-County Council member receives a pair of tickets (one would think at least two tickets, as usually a person does not attend such an event as the Super Bowl® by oneself)? After all, the City-County Council is a deliberative body whose members are supposed to protect the interests of the citizens here. But the Council member considers another vote on the Super Bowl® last August, when the signage provisions were passed. Is that member going to vote in such a way as to piss off the NFL®? The member can scalp those two tickets and pocket six grand. Or, in fairness, the member could take her/his spouse, significant other, or teenage hooker met on the internet and actually go to the game. I do not care. That is inappropriate.
And will any such member report the tickets as income on her/his return for the tax year 2012?
Originally I envisioned shooting the Show downtown in the establishment of a business whose owner is upset by what the City has done—whored (not gender-specific) itself out to the NFL® for the dubious pleasure of hosting this game on which we, as taxpayers, will pay. However, even business people who were upset about the matter did not want to allow us to shoot from their establishments because of fear of retribution by the City—not that Mayor Ballard has a reputation for taking revenge on those who upset him. That is called a "chilling effect" on free speech.
Chapter 986 of the Revised Code of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, under "LDL-3-Signs," passed this last August, requires a Limited Duration License ("LDL") for "temporary" signs. One must apply for a license, pay a fee, and obtain the license before she or he can display a sign PLUS twenty percent (20%) of the area of the sign must include THEIR (a/k/a the NFL®/Super Bowl’s ®) official logo. That only is for the Special Event Zones of Broad Ripple, Massachusetts Avenue, and Fountain Square. Downtown, the sign must devote sixty percent (60%)—that’s right SIXTY PERCENT—of its surface area to the Super Bowl® logo.
Today—Saturday, January 28, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., "Civil Discourse Now" will film. We begin at Big Hat Books. In the 90 minutes or so to follow, we shall film one or more acts of civil disobedience. The conduct will address corporate greed and oppression in its campaign to extract as much money as possible from the people of this County and State while Super Bowl® personnel try to quash free speech. Our actions will be non-violent.
Come to Te Show. Have some fun. Bring a friend. If you are a member of the City-County Council, bring along whomever it is you met on the internet the last couple of days. I shall bring a toothbrush. Dental care is very important.
Oh—the game itself. I’d might as well make a prediction. The Super Bowl® Bill Belichick’s team lost to the New York Giants® was sort of like Voldemort® having his spell cast back when he tried to kill Harry Potter®. Belichick has summoned the horcruxes, that held various pieces of his soul, that he had hidden in places and things around the United States. He is at one with himself—well, minus the piece when he lost to New York. But I cannot bring myself to write that the Patriots® will win.