Cameras at Lowndes County Commission 11 October 2011

What does a bill of attainder mean, anyway? Perhaps Lowndes County should ask their Attorney to look it up.

Here’s an interesting presentation by a group of 4-H people to the Lowndes County Commission in their Regular Sessino of 11 October 2011. Hm, first they said the pledge, and what’s that I see?

Why look, it’s a camera!

Here during the 4-H presentation, she’s moved up to the second row from the front, right side:

What seems familiar about that location? Oh, yes, that’s exactly where I was sitting when Chairman Ashley Paulk claimed he was the legal opinion and:

“The County Commission wishes from this day forward that any filming be done from the media area in the back corner of the room.”

Well, maybe the Chairman just didn’t notice, being a busy man and all. Except he was looking straight at her:

And here’s somebody else with a camera a bit later:

She’s sitting down holding up a camera directly in front of Ashley Paulk.

Here’s what was supplied by the county in response to somebody else’s request for a copy of the ordinance or notice or whatever it was the Commission passed 13 September 2011. I suppose somebody could argue that the Pledge isn’t really part of the business of the Commission, and maybe the same for a presentation. But there they are, right there on the agenda:

3. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
4. 4-H Presentation
The “Notice” does have some weasel words about “unless otherwise permitted by the presiding Commissioner.” Here’s a playlist; see if you hear any permission being given.

As we have seen, there was no reason given for the Commission’s vote on the Notice (or was it an ordinance?) other than the Chairman’s outburst of the previous morning, in which he called me by name, and referred specifically to the LAKE blog.

A cynic might consult a law journal about arcane phrases like

“No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed.”
—U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3
and learn that a bill of attainder is:
Definition: A legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial.
James Madison (who probably wrote that clause) thought bills of attainder were
“contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. … The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils.”
Well, I have to admit that the Chairman claiming to be code enforcement or the legal opinion or otherwise to be the law isn’t all that fluctuating around here, since he’s done it repeatedly. But Madison would probably still argue that bills of attainder are contrary to the social compact and to sound legislation. Not to mention to the decorum of Commission meetings. How is anyone to know when it’s safe to use a camera or when the Chairman or the Commission might choose to pass another ordinance against them, too?

Now I can’t blame the two citizen photographers for wanting to record part of a Commission meeting; I’ve been doing it for years, as has Gretchen, and George Rhynes, and other people whom you may not have noticed. However, since the Commission gave that fabulous award specifically to LAKE, it seems to me they should either enforce it evenly, or admit it was, in fact, a bill of attainder.

Here’s the video:

Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 11 October 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.