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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : local blogs : local blogs May 22, 2015

8/2/2014 5:46:00 PM
Press Pass: Plaza pursuits under attack?
Les Stukenberg, file/The Daily Courier
People browse the booths set up on the courthouse plaza recently for the Williamson Valley Volunteer Fire Department arts and crafts show in downtown Prescott.
Les Stukenberg, file/The Daily Courier
People browse the booths set up on the courthouse plaza recently for the Williamson Valley Volunteer Fire Department arts and crafts show in downtown Prescott.

Tim Wiederaenders
Editor, The Daily Courier

Many, even most of us love the courthouse plaza. It is the heart of Prescott.

Having lived in cities and towns where their plazas are dead or dying - lacking a heartbeat of activity - I, like many Prescottonians, have an interest in seeing Prescott's downtown enjoy protections of sorts.

That is why I am not opposed to the proposed rules changes on tap for this week's Yavapai County supervisors' meeting. It is surprising, however, to see the and social media comments the preview article has garnered - ranging from misunderstandings to down-right false interpretations.

Some believe the board is looking to prohibit freedoms - of expression, assembly and speech.

Not hardly.

Under consideration are bans of disruptive people, including prohibitions of "fighting, violent or disruptive behavior, unreasonable noise, abusive or offensive language or gestures that are likely to provoke physical retaliation, protracted commotion and actions intended to prevent lawful meetings, gatherings or processions."

Read it clearly: banning actions ... intended to prevent lawful meetings, gatherings, etc.

The article states nothing about banning protests of government actions. In fact, a trip to the plaza often elicits interaction with protestors.

The expected policy changes also will include embargos against acts of solicitation and vandalism, among other behaviors.

Do you want to be walking the plaza or picnicking only to be bothered by someone seeking donations or pushing their beliefs on you?

All of it is a fine line.

At the same time, we're told, the county or one of its committees is revisiting the policy concerning plaza events. That has made news of late, with a band of merchants calling for a level playing field when it comes to arts and crafts events and fairs downtown.

That too makes sense; yet, it also involves a very fine line.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the revisions to the county courthouse plaza rules at their meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, inside the board hearing room, 1015 Fair St. in Prescott.

Will you attend? What are your concerns?

The courthouse plaza is a jewel intended to be a gathering place for entertainment, activities and events - even if that involves a leisurely stroll.

What say you?!

Watch and The Daily Courier for coverage of the meeting. ... Or check back here to see what's driving residents in their own pursuit of freedom.

2:45 PM Aug. 4 UPDATE: The Board of Supervisors tabled the proposed policy changes today; however, the packed room led to a spirited debate. Watch for our follow-up story.

Related Stories:
• Editorial: Common sense should be required
• New policy could force disruptive people from plaza
• Art festivals on the courthouse plaza are a boon or a curse to downtown businesses, depending on who you ask

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 08, 2014
Article comment by: ronald raygun

Who's the decider? Who decides what behavior is disruptive, what noise is unreasonable, what language is offensive? What you and the board suggest is indeed prohibiting peoples freedoms. That's the problem with freedoms, everybody has them. And most of us only consider our own.

Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Article comment by: Jack Jones

I spend a lot of time on and around the Plaza ~ day and evenings. Not once have I been approached, accosted or offended by a single individual while there ~ and, frankly, I don't consider myself someone who gives the appearance of someone who gives off a "Do Not approach ~ Stay Away!!" vibe. Nor, have I witnessed such an incident involving others

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: terry harmon

to Mr , ...
if it where possible to "to politely say no" as you have suggested, then many people who have been approached would do so....but that is not the case!! what you have to understand is that the panhandlers and beggars are very aggressive these days. Not the polite beggars of yesteryear...we have an obscene amount of drug addicted young men being dumped on us everyday (us being the residents of the downtown, historic area) ...This City is behind the curve in enforcement anyway...Mr Perkins is correct, many of these laws have already been passed...just enforce what we already have on the books!!!!

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Pete Walter

Well leave it to an editor who wields the power to pick and choose who gets to speak through his medium to then try to extrapolate that out to the public square: the quintessential place, paid with our own tax dollars, to tell us who can and who can't speak, based on the content of said speech. Mind you, Mr. Wiedaerender's interpretation of the solicitation clause was erroneous in that he chose to "add" the phrase "pushing [one's] beliefs on you" to the list of dastardly offenses perpetrated by those who should be banned from the courthouse plaza. Ummm... as one of the County Supervisors read it to me over the phone, it actually narrows the scope of prohibition on solicitations to those that seek monetary remuneration. But hey, what's a little noodling of the First Amendment gonna hurt, right? What "our dear" editor would like you to think is that your taxes that go to the plaza give you the right to silence speech. In fact, what a looooonnnng history of town square legislation and court decisions have determined is that this very plaza is THE place for that very speech! You have a home where no one can bother you if you choose not to be bothered. Otherwise, "public property for public use" can not be violated through whining fiat. Politely say, no thank you. That's how it works.

Posted: Sunday, August 03, 2014
Article comment by: Robert Perkins

Why do you need this when all those things are against the law we already have on the books? I will be at the meeting to speak. Thank you.A lover of my town for what it is and also I am a active member in volinteer for town events thanks again inforce the laws we already have.

Posted: Saturday, August 02, 2014
Article comment by: Tequila Mockingbird

We need to protect the Plaza and keep it from the degeneration that comes with a growing population. This clearly indicates the need for a fresh look at what must be done to preserve the peace and historic integrity of the Plaza.

There is nothing wrong with the proposed plan. There is nothing to complain about.

Gun enthusiasts will complain, but already, many restaurants, bars and buildings downtown don't allow guns onsite. Or smoking for that matter...

People complaining would be those who persist in demanding their "right" to be a nuisance, an unwelcome distraction.

Those who persist in selling backyard bred Chihuahuas. Those who want to save your soul. Those who want to uninvited, change or challenge your political perspective with a the persistence of an irritating little mosquito. Those who buy and sell drugs and use them on the Plaza while looking for possible clients. Those who grope young girls and mock grown women AND men. Those who try to make a negative impact on Plaza events as an action worthy of howls of laughter.

I feel sorry for them. But the Plaza WILL be better without the pointed and incessant nuisance they bring because they cannot or will not coexist.

Peace, respect and civility in our most important place of gathering is a good thing!

Posted: Saturday, August 02, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

Let's hope Tim is right. A story on how exactly the new rules are different might be worth a story. From reading the paper and scanning the proposed new revision, it's hard to pick that stuff out. There's just too much that's similar.

Posted: Saturday, August 02, 2014
Article comment by: Karen Hoyt

I think the plaza is amazing and needs to be kept clean and peaceful. The rules changes are long overdue. The business owners need help as well so they can know they are not in competition with every Tom, Dick and Harry who comes to town with items to sell. Protect downtown Prescott please.

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