.

Do politics and the Farmers Markets mix?

Should we allow politics in our produce?

A story Thursday in The Post brought up an unusual fact that political activity (passing out leaflets and information, primarilly) are prohibited at our farmers markets, and we are the only city that has that restriction.

I wonder how we all feel about that. Frankly, with all the political activity surrounding us, I kinda like having one public place where I'm not assaulted with petitions, flyers, sign-wielding polemicists and politicians running for office.

Some have noted that there is a booth on Saturday where city leaders are made available for questions, but I note that I have never seen someone currently running for re-election in that booth and have seen several city employees and commission appointees manning the booth and they never actively approach people looking for a nice peach.

So I don't really consider that booth a political activity. However, I'm just one person.

What do the rest of you think? Do we need yet another forum for political promotiion and formal discussion/protest or should we leave it as it is and keep politics out of our organic produce?

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Reality Check June 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM
No passing out leaflets or political speech allowed at RWC farmer's markets? Is this even true? And how can this be legal/constitutional? Under what legal theory can the city ban free speech on public property at an event open to the general public? How could they defend this in court? Can cities just arbitrarily declare which places or events anyone is free to be at as long as they don't talk or communicate about subjects they deem "political"?
Lou Covey, The Local Motive June 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Actually, yes, hence the free-speech zone at Sproul Hall in Berkeley. In Sunnyvale, the Chamber of Commerce has a wine, cheese and arts festival where they designate a specific zone for free speech and schedule users. In Hyde Park in England is Speakers Corner which allows any one to stand on a box and say absolutely anything, except for defame the Royal Family. I understand that vendors are not allowed to poach customers from other vendors at the Farmers Markets and that passing out handbills, even from the booths is forbidden. But it's not like anyone is forbidden an opportunity to express their views in Redwood City. My question is, what do the people want? Is being able to stage political events on the town square, City Hall, Sequoia Station, Caltrain stations, banks, coffee shops and politicians homes enough, or do we also need to bring political rancor to the Farmers Markets as well?
Lou Covey, The Local Motive June 22, 2012 at 09:02 PM
i think we might also consider the wishes of the merchants in the markets. Do they want people accosting their customers while they buy turnips?
Lou Covey, The Local Motive June 22, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I've noted there is also a difference between what elected city leaders can talk about at the city booth and what unelected people can say, so even the Brown Act restricts what can be said by elected politicians as opposed to what non-office holders can do and say.
Reality Check June 25, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Taking London's highly-entertaining "Speakers Corner" as an example, designated speech zones, do not by themselves mean or imply speech is restricted elsewhere. The subject was political speech, so talk of "poaching customers" and "staging events" and "accosting" and "rancor" comes off as injecting bias and/or seeking to inflame. Oh, and the Brown Act has nothing whatsoever to do with what an elected official can say to a member of the public. And so now back to my (unanswered) questions: Under what legal theory can the city ban free speech on public property at an event open to the general public? How could they defend this in court? Can city, county, state of federal governments just arbitrarily declare public places or events anyone is free to be in ... as long as they don't talk or communicate about subjects they deem "political"? If so, how and why?
Chris Manton June 30, 2012 at 06:21 AM
I'm can't think of anything politics mixes well with. For me, It's like Billy Mays screaming about Oxyclean in-between 12 minute segments of a bad late night cable movie you're only mildly interested in. All modern political strategy is similar to infomercials "promoting their product in a supposedly objective way". It's initially entertaining, but I quickly tune it out. I'm not buying what they are selling. However, since 1/3 of American's believe in UFOs, I worry about the judgement of this advertising on the populace as a whole. When everything becomes politicized, nothing is politicized.

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