The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 April 2005

The San Francisco threat

The Board of Supervisors in Baghdad-by-the-Bay is contemplating a new city ordinance which would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs over $1000. The actual ordinance [link requires Adobe Reader] doesn't mention blogs specifically, but its definition of "communications" includes everything transmitted openly over the Internet.

You can imagine what Daily Pundit Bill Quick thinks about this:

My City is known for nutball politicos, but this bit of business ought to be completely beyond the pale. The naked infringement on the First Amendment (not that the Board of Supervisors necessarily considers itself running a city that is actually a part of the United States of America — or one governed by the U.S. Constitution, for that matter) is just another bit of fallout from the unconscionable McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act, which was upheld by the Supreme Court as being constitutional. If the courts then see the necessity of ordering the FEC to regulate the internet, why should not every tinpot city council and board of supervisors do likewise? After all, it serves the cause of campaign finance reform, doesn't it?

And, of course, a blog doesn't have to be in San Francisco to be read in San Francisco, which means that theoretically anyone from Oakland to Oklahoma City to the Okefenokee could fall under the provisions of this bill.

All the more reason, then, to make fun of it now.

(Update, 4:20 pm: Bill Quick spoke with a staffer in the office of one of the Supervisors, and said staffer says that blogs are "specifically exempt." Mr Quick was happy to point out that blogs are not, in fact, mentioned in the text. The vote is tomorrow; he says he'll be there, and I thank him for keeping an eye on the Supervisors.)

Posted at 8:14 AM to Blogorrhea

TrackBack: 4:08 PM, 4 April 2005
» If You're Blogging To San Francisco... from coffeegrounds
... be sure to roast some bureaucrats to spare... More lunacy from the City By The Bay (via Chaz). And unlike a lot of these kinds of reports, this one may not be a hoax....[read more]

Hey, if I'm willing to buck the FEC, the City of San Francisco Superintendent of Elections and Street Repair ain't got no hope.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:12 AM on 4 April 2005

I wonder what would happen if all 7 or is it 8 now million blogs that could be read in SF had to register with the SF city council.

Posted by: rammer at 11:19 AM on 4 April 2005

In order to fall under the city law's purview, a blog (regardless of its location) has but to mention a candidate for local office in San Francisco. I can't be bothered to look up the names of their local politicians, but I'll just bet there's one named "Smith" or "Jones."

Now, Charles, by naming a candidate for local office on your blog, I have just subjected you to the reporting requirements. Do keep us posted on how that goes.

Posted by: Sean Gleeson at 11:21 AM on 4 April 2005

At least I won't have to turn in a financial report, unless bandwidth goes through the roof.

Posted by: CGHill at 12:16 PM on 4 April 2005

Kudos to the first guy to come up with an MT plug-in to block SF-originated IP addresses...

Posted by: Eric at 2:41 PM on 4 April 2005

Meanwhile, Canadians, as of this writing, are forbidden to read about a court case that the government has put under a gag order, so those of you who live in Canada, don't you dare click on this link.

Posted by: CGHill at 2:42 PM on 4 April 2005

As of this morning, apparently the SF Board passed two versions of the ordinance, one with a specific exclusion for blogs and one without. Did you ever get the feeling that if you asked them to distinguish their ass from a hole in the ground, they'd miss two out of three?

Posted by: CGHill at 10:33 AM on 6 April 2005