Nevada City to denounce Patriot Act?
The Nevada City City Council will have a chance, as a city government, to decide whether to oppose the USA Patriot Act at its meeting this evening.
The five-member council will vote on a resolution to dispute the federal mandate that allows government officials to view private information of citizens and noncitizens in an effort to combat terrorism. While Councilman Steve Cottrell said he made sure the resolution got on the agenda, it was written by a group of several people that didn’t include him.
The U.S. Congress initially passed The Patriot Act on Oct. 26, 2001, one month after the terrorist attacks on American soil.
“The residents of Nevada City … are concerned that some executive orders and the resulting actions of the Attorney General of the United States and the U.S. Justice Department since the September 11th attacks pose significant threats to Constitutional protections,” the resolution contends. “In a time of concern over terrorism, our country must provide security for its people without compromising their constitutional rights and civil liberties.”
More than 330 communities around the country have passed resolutions opposing the act, the New York Times reported July 9. The issue has never been brought to the Grass Valley City Council. Nevada City City Councilman Kerry Arnett said a resolution opposing the act was on the council agenda once about six months ago but was taken off after it was brought to light that a coalition of residents was preparing a separate one.
The resolution states the Patriot Act threatens the freedom of speech, religion, assembly and privacy; the right to obtain an attorney and judicial proceedings; and protection from seizure. It states that Nevada City is made up of a diverse populace, including noncitizens, whose contributions are vital to the community, and that those people should not be jeopardized.
“Nevada City requests that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement authorities, and county departments regularly and publicly report to the Board of Supervisors, the extent and manner in which they have acted under the USA Patriot Act,” the resolution states.
“As a citizen of the United States, I am opposed to the USA Patriot Act – sections of it, at least. I have not read all of it,” Arnett said Sunday. “I oppose anything that would weaken the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.”
Arnett said he has not yet had a chance to read the resolution and could not comment directly on it.
“How I will vote the night of the meeting remains to be seen,” he said. “I am going to wait until I see the presentation.”
Grass Valley Mayor Patti Ingram said she personally believes the Patriot Act is not a local issue and local governments should not deal with it.
“I would feel that is a federal issue and is not in the purview of Grass Valley,” Ingram said. “Those types of things are personal beliefs, such as the right to life. They are not within the jurisdiction … of the city government.”
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