Since the start of its October, 2010 efforts to implement a required opt-out program, despite the industry’s already established program, we have criticized the elected leaders of the city of Seattle –
- November, 2010: “ …this really isn’t an environmental move by the City of Seattle. Instead, it has become a clear attempt at cost shift and a political stepping stone for some Council members…”
- July, 2011: “ …Lost in Seattle: Hello. Print Yellow Pages Aren’t Your Problem..”
- August, 2011: “Seattle Green Efforts Come Up Way Short”
- October, 2012: “..Take that Seattle. In a decision, which has been expected for some time, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released a unanimous decision today which holds that under the First Amendment, Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” and not “commercial speech.” The appeals court determined that print directories are entitled to the same standards under the First Amendment as newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, this is a major win for the industry..”
Despite the obvious stupidity of this effort, the leaders keep on pushing this needless waste of taxpayer funds. We’ll now The Seattle Times reports that the city has tentatively agreed to pay $500,000 to yellow-pages phone directory publishers in a settlement, rather than continuing the fight to appeal a ruling that the city violated the publishers’ free-speech rights,
Initially, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the city’s position. But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, generally a very left-leaning court, sided with the yellow-pages publishers, ruling that the phone books are protected, like other publications, by the First Amendment.
The Local Search Association has repeatedly fought that the city opt-out registry wasn’t necessary because the publishers and Association had their own fully functional opt-out systems. But, city leaders lead by City Councilmember Mike O’Brien insisted on forging ahead with an opt-out registry for “unwanted phone books” and charged a $100 fee on each of the three companies that distribute phone books in the city. It also charged the companies for every book delivered, levied a fine of $125 for deliveries to households that had opted out. And, to add insult to injury, the law required the publishers to advertise the city’s opt-out service on the cover of the yellow pages.
A suit then filed by Local Search Association, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in October that phone directories are protected by the First Amendment and that Seattle’s law regulating distribution of the yellow-pages directories was unconstitutional.
Now judgment day has arrived for the city as they will now need to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to the industry. City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, still refuses to admit the futility of this effort and said he couldn’t comment on negotiations to settle the lawsuit because they were still ongoing. He said the settlement agreement could also decide “the future of Seattle’s yellow-pages opt-out system.” Gee, you think so?
As you would expect some of the city’s finest are reacting online. Here is one of the few blog comments I could print: “..let’s SUE and FINE Yellow Pages for LITTERING. Shoot them on site for trespassing…”. So much for the civility these same people preach to us about.
As we noted in October, 2010:
“…What a shame. It didn’t have to be this way. A working process was already up and running. But that wasn’t enough for the greenies. Someone in big business had to be punished no matter the costs or the impact to taxpayers…”
My only question is whether City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and the other 7 elected officials who voted for this effort (only one Councilmember voted against the ordinance) will now be held responsible for reaping the taxpayers. Somehow, I doubt it.