Battle over free speech and first amendment rights in Mohave County Pt. II

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Ever since he was told to stop handing out flyers on county property about John McCain's voting record, Luca Zanna says he has been asking Mohave County supervisors, what law they used to stop him.

He says his phone calls have gone answered and he cannot discuss the issue at board meetings. Each time he tries, he says, he is asked to stop because the issue is not on the board agenda.

County Manager Ron Walker says that is the law. "We have open meeting law…and our board meetings are for official business." Walker says people are allowed to sign up and speak about issues on the agenda but that Mr. Zanna has broken that rule and tried to speak about other issues, disrupting board meetings.

While the board and Zanna are not speaking directly, Supervisor Tom Sockwell wrote to the local paper, saying there is a good reason people are not allowed to politic on county property, writing "We the people" should be able to carry out the public's business without running a gauntlet of soapbox activists like Zanna, Langston or Hanoi Jane."

Zanna takes offense at that letter, and a follow up editorial from the county manager, referring to him as part of the lunatic fringe, and bringing up Timothy McVeigh, writing, "Let us never forget a former local person who blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 innocent people and injuring 681 others."  

Zanna also felt it was unfair for Walker to refer to him repeatedly as a naturalized citizen and former Italian national but Walker says no offense was intended. "I'm sorry he felt that way, there is nothing intended that way. As a matter of fact, one of my deputy county managers is Filipina. My development services person is an immigrant from Hungary, I don’t have anything against that."

Zanna does not feel the same, saying " I am a law abiding citizen…and we have a county manager out of the blue in the newspaper comparing me to a terrorist, comparing me a lunatic fringe so i need to restore my honor."  

It is not just the board and Zanna, more and more residents are writing in as well, which is the one thing both sides actually seem to agree is a good thing. Walker says " People always want to express their opinions and they do so freely in the newspaper." Zanna says he is glad people are doing it. "I'm very pround of Mohave County residents, now finally they start to sign thier names."