Man Kicked Out Of City Hall Meeting -- Again
The City of Riviera Beach sued to evict him from the municipal marina and lost so then it had the U.S. Marshals literally take his home away and tow it to Miami.
Now the city council has tossed Fane Lozman out of city hall. Again.
At Wednesday night's commission meeting, the houseboat-dwelling Lozman was reading an article about him that appeared in the Palm Beach Sun during public comments when Council Chairwoman Dawn Pardo had police take him out of the city hall claiming he was engaging in forbidden "personal attacks."
At least this time, they didn't arrest Lozman. The video above shows his arrest by Riviera Beach police at a meeting in 2006 after the council forced him to stop talking about the federal government's anti-corruption efforts in Palm Beach County. The woman who ordered him out of City Hall that time was former Councilwoman Liz Wade, whom he had called out in the past for taking bundled contributions from developers. Watch that video -- it's one of the most blatant examples of government stomping on the First Amendment you'll ever see (the criminal case was later dropped for obvious reasons). Lozman comes on at about 35 seconds into the video and is taken away by a police officer pretty quick.
Lozman, a natural born government agitator, has been despised by city rulers ever since he
successfully stopped the eminent domain process being used by the city to make way for a massive $2.4 billion redevelopment plan that would have turned the city marina where he lived into a upscale playground for rich yacht owners.
The city responded by trying to kick Lozman and his houseboat out of the municipal marina where he was residing in a leased slip. Lozman took it to trial in 2007 and, though he is a millionaire, tried the case himself (he's not a lawyer). And he beat the city (I testified in the case after I was subpoenaed and it was, frankly, one of the greatest moments in democracy that I've ever seen).
The city responded to that victory by filing a faulty complaint against Lozman in federal court in April. On the same day the complaint was filed, Judge William Dimitrouleas signed an order to seize his home. That afternoon, four U.S. Marshals raided his boat and towed it to Miami, where it remains locked away. You can read about that here, including a whole lot of lively comments. A federal trial is expected to commence in November.
My money's on Lozman.
After he was booted out of the city hall meeting Wednesday, Lozman sent a complaint to the State Attorney's Office, writing, "The question is what actions is your office going to take against corrupt officials in Riviera Beach who are throwing citizens around because they do not like what they have to say?"
He also let Barbara Petersen at the First Amendment Foundation know about it. She wrote him back that the Florida Supreme Court has determined that public input at government meetings is an "inalienable right" and that the Governor's Commission on Open Government Reform had determined:
A meaningful opportunity to speak, to participate in the deliberations of government, is critical to a democratic society and fosters increased public trust in government. There is a direct correlation between the public's perception of government transparency and the level of public participation allowed by government, which in turn directly affects public trust. By creating a culture that fosters public trust and confidence, government truly operates in the sunshine.
Petersen remarked to Lozman, "This is outrageous, Fane, and you have to wonder if they'll ever learn."
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