The Coastal Post - October, 1997

First Amendment Rights Suspended In Valley?

By Jim Scanlon

On August 2, the San Francisco Mime Troupe performed at the San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center, which is located on grounds belonging to the Lagunitas School District. A group of opponents to the proposed District plan to build sewage treatment ponds jointly with a luxury home developer two hundred yards from the center had a table outside the performance and were distributing written material opposing the sewage plan.

Brian Dodd, a long-term trustee for the District and the prime mover behind the sewage plan, got extremely upset with this political activity. He telephoned Marshall Krause, the chairman of the Cultural Center and a well-known, highly-respected civil libertarian, and complained.

Krause subsequently wrote a letter to the trustees assuring them that, "Political activities at our events held on school property are not appropriate. The use of the table to distribute literature about the French Ranch Development...was not with [our] knowledge or permission. Our staff has been instructed to stop and discourage political campaigning at any of our events whenever possible."

It was not clear if Krause had consulted with any other members of the Board of the Cultural Center before writing the letter.

In a similar vein, a volunteer gathering signatures outside the Woodacre Post Office was ordered to move by the Assistant Postmistress because political activity was not permitted. The volunteer was told to contact the person in charge, who was not available.

Signs posted by Save The Valley opposing the school/developer sewage treatment ponds have been removed. Additionally, hundreds of issues of the Coastal Post containing an article on the sewage plan are believed to have been stolen, according to Editor Don Deane.

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