Two Hanford planning commissioners resign after free speech controversy

Although the city of Hanford’s attempts to silence an outspoken planning commission member may be interpreted as a violation of his free speech, the city attorney Ty Mizote said Jason Kemp Van Ee was reprimanded for inaccurate and possibly biased statements on social media.

Jason Kemp Van Ee decided to resign without taking legal action. Though he had reached out to a First Amendment lawyer he did not explain why he did not pursue litigation.

In sympathy, Roger Snow also resigned from the planning commission which is regarded by some as the city’s most important commission.

Kemp Van Ee received a warning letter from Mizote regarding his comments on Facebook.  Mizote said  his comments were inaccurate and possibly biased.

The letter reprimanding Kemp Van Ee was initiated by city manager Mario Cifuentes and Mayor Francisco Ramirez. Ramirez and City Council member Kalish Morrow provided copies of Kemp Van Ee’s allegedly racists and false Facebook posts to Mizote.

Kemp Van Ee was not reprimanded for being critical of the city, said Mizote. It was because of the false and possibly biased statements that could expose the city to litigation.

As a result of Kemp Van Ee’s social media posts, the city council scheduled an agenda item at its July 20 meeting to consider the possible removal of Kemp Van Ee.

“It is unfortunate we have a council that instead of working to improve our community, such as I have sworn an oath to do, would rather personally attack me as a personal agenda because of my criticism of their work and handling of the city,” Kemp Van Ee wrote in a July 12 letter to City Manager Mario Cifuentez, City Attorney Mizote, and Hanford City Council members.

“I understand that my posts on social media can be considered unorthodox and possibly offensive; however, I continue to stand by them.”

Kemp Van Ee said on Facebook that the city council was a “clown show” because of its handling of sexual harassment claim by then Community Development Director Darlene Mata against Council Member Art Brieno.

“When this circus starts to stand up and support their employees, they will no longer be classified as clown show,” Kemp Van Ee said in a Facebook post. He was critical of the council reinstating Brieno after he resigned following the controversy over Mata’s claims.

Kemp Van Ee has said that he intends to run for Brieno’s seat when Brieno’s term expires in November 2022.

Free speech rights were also mentioned in Snow’s resignation letter. He voiced some of the same concerns as Kemp Van Ee’s.

“Commissioners should be able to to (sic) speak freely about social issues. Our viewpoints or disagreements should not be used to remove a Commissioner from a Commission,” said Snow in a July 12 letter. “Commissioners should be able to disagree and post their views without fear of retaliation and removal from office. Commissioners should be able to speak out against City Council Members and City Staff.”

Snow said another reason for his resignation is “the Planning Commission should be advised with the same assistance as to how to vote against the issue as when the Commission is voting as advised by the City. This does not happen now, nor does it seem to be welcomed.”

Snow said that he was upset that resigning from the planning commission was his only recourse to protest the treatment of Kemp Van Ee. He said  he intended on taking a more active role in city affairs as a city resident.

24 thoughts on “Two Hanford planning commissioners resign after free speech controversy

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  1. He decided NOT to purse litigation because he has no case! He was a hired employee! The city council already let go an individual for this like five years ago. THIS REPORTING IS HORRIBLE! READ THE HANFORD SENTINEL ARTICLE ITS MUCH BETTER. It addresses the lies about City paying off lawsuits because of bribes which is untrue. Why doesn’t Valley Voice also show the racist post when Jason wrote about “white” America. Snow you call protest all you want! Snow is bitter you can can’t the number of people that will show up to that protest on two hands. YOU CAN’T POST LIES ABOUT CITY AND POST RACIST STATEMENTS ON THE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS COMMENT SECTION

  2. This is from Hanford Sentinel a real newspaper that gives whole detail and response from City attorney not just copy and paste court documents. Valley Voice is pathetic RETARDICAN ran business!

    The letter also referenced posts which could be considered offensive to specific religious or racial views, Mizote said.

    Mizote provided two such posts to the Hanford Sentinel, one which called both a woman wearing a niqab and a woman wearing a face mask “designed signs of obedience and submission.” Niqabs are worn by some Muslim women and cover most of the face.

    The other image threatened to boycott Coca-Cola over allegedly including a video which gave employees tips to be “less white” during diversity training, which the company later said was not a part of their official curriculum but an individual could have chosen to include it.

  3. Why don’t you cover all comments in question VALLEY VOICE. Oh you guys are biased towards liberal thinking because you are NON PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVES, THAT’S RIGHT. This is from Hanford SENTINEL a real newspaper.

    Mizote said the issues which were outlined in the letter were brought forward by a city council member and city staff.

    The letter cited a claim Kemp Van Ee made on Morrow’s Facebook page that the city is “paying out millions of dollars in lawsuits.” The claim is untrue, according to the letter

    • Troy Kitchens you don’t know what your talking about. You’re wrong about the Valley Voice being biased toward liberals or so called progressive. The Valley Voice endorsed Joe Biden for President and they’ll continue to support Gavin Newsom’s broken agenda, despite the negative impact his policies are having on people who work everyday and pay their taxes. I dunno, why you have a beef with the Hanford Planning Commissioners, but since when, is it a crime to post something you might be wrong about? In my opinion, this is McCarthyism, when you ban someone or target them, because they have an opinion you disagree with. Your use of the word Retardican’s referring to the Valley Voice as a conservative publication is laughable and its progressives, that want to cancel everything and ban everyone, they disagree with, because they’re afraid, they’re losing the war on ideas. Truth and facts always prevail, thats why liberals don’t support free speech anymore, unless its their opinions.

  4. Cite your sources where Valley Voice endorsed Biden because you are wrong. Never said the planning commission broke the law. They broke an employment rule. One commission posted lies about lawsuits against the city. Funny you brought McCarthyism because it’s hard ore REPUBLICANS on Fox news bashing any sign of communism. They call socialist like Bernie Sanders and OAC COMMUNIST. WHEN THEY GO LOW WE GO HIGH. TRUMP LOST BECAUSE ALL THE LIES HE TOLD ABOUT CORONAVIRUS NOT BEING AIRBORNE AND MASK ARE NOT NEEDED. FREEDOM OF SPEECH ONLY PROTECTS A CITIZEN FROM PROSECUTION FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

  5. Listen Troy, we are not here to debate the truth of the newspapers and the media. In the world be they all lie or are so politicized that they won’t give us the strawberry scoop. And in response to Newsoms broken agenda… You can’t break the broken. He is a tyrant who chokes on his own power. He attempted to, (according to Sacramento bee and Ny times (yuck) ) and almost completely did, ban travel to Florida due to discrimination. Dude, you can’t control another state. And that’s a moral issue and nothing other, less, or more.

    • Don’t tell me what I’m here for and what others are here for. VALLEY VOICE IS COMPLETELY BIASED AND I PROVED THEY LEAVE OUT MAIN POINTS STATED BY HANFORD ATTORNEY THAT THEY DIDN’T ADDRESS AT ALL! THE STUPID NEWS THAT DOESN’T KNOW THAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS ONLY PROTECTION FROM BEING PROSECUTED BY GOVERNMENT. ANY EMPLOYER CAN FIRE A NON CONTRACTED EMPLOYEE! If you hate California so much LEAVE! California has highest GDP and is thriving economically! Also a state with one of most voting rights. He is not a tyrant.

  6. Id leave if it weren’t the most beautiful state in the Union. Our governor is a tyranical maniac who embraced a combination of liberal, progressive, and marxist values that are ruining our state. Sure our state economy might be doing ok but all of this free spirit spending will catch up. You can’t just spend billions on a train to nowhere whenever you feel like It. And when it DOES go to pot, I know your answer will be open another pot dispensary. Well you can’t regulate and control this substance when you have a governor who is for repeatedly slashing the budget of the men and women in blue who you hop to control it.

    • He doesn’t have Marxist values. You are a liar. And the train is employing lots of people and will continue when built. The train goes from LA TO SACRAMENTO YOU COMPULSIVE LIAR. AGAIN YOU LEAVE OUT CITIZENS VOTED FOR THE HIGH SPEED RAIL. CLEARLY YOU HAVE SOMETHING AGAINST DEMOCRACY IN CALIFORNIA. AND THE COURTS RULED IN FAVOR OF THE RAIL. THE GOVERNOR HAD DECISION IN THAT MATTER. It’s sad how ignorant you are. But I see it as willful ignorance so it’s just PATHETIC

      • I have no problem with democracy. I am constitutional originalist. And he does hold marxist values. He is heck bent on controlling what you do on your own property. And I’m not challenging democracy, I’m using my right to free speech to criticize a clearly rigged political decision. The gop haven’t held a majority in the state capital since what? The 90’s? And with the absence of term limits, it’s the same old dinosaurs.

        • You are a liar! He does not push Marxist values! You have no evidence to support your claim. LIAR

        • You are DELUSIONAL! US representatives are voted on every 2 years. Governor every 4 years. You are just bitter you are the MAJORITY! YOU CLEARLY HAVE A PROBLEM WITH DEMOCRACY SINCE YOU ARE ON LOSING SIDE! YOU ARE ANTI CANNABIS WHICH US CITIZENS VOTED ON. THEN BLAME HIGH SPEED RAIL ON GOVERNOR WHICH CA CITIZENS VOTED IN FAVOR FOR. YOU DON’T EMPHASIS A CITY VOTE TO DECIDE IF VISALIA SHOULD HAVE CANNABIS BUSINESSES BECAUSE YOU ARE ON LOSING SIDE

        • You just admitted you don’t value democracy! You called it rigged! Because you are in loser minority lmao. Trump lost and never won popular vote even vs unlikeable Hilary. Newsom won his vote by huge majority. He will beat recall again

          • Listen you debate like a 1st grader. And I’m not against democracy. I’m against this rigged system in california that they call a democracy.

  7. So Same Guy it’s only rigged when you are on losing minority side lol. How does it feel to be non progressive continuely on losing side. Trump lost lmao. Dems control the House and Senate! WINNING

  8. Troy, I am glad to see that politics is all about winning at any cost, and not at all about substance and supporting said constituents in your world. You must be one of those that just looks for the letter “D” on the voter registrar and starts to bubble in excitement. That truly explains everything. If you truly believe California is the Troyian Utopia, I pity you.

    • Quite opposite. I hate absolutes. I’m simply pointing out that this person that call California system rigged is just anti democracy because they are on losing side mostly especially recently lol. Keep assuming you know about me and using terms like YOU MUST. CA has flaws but highest GDP and best state parks.

      • Listen Troy. I just returned from a recall convention and we have just broke the registration gap. So as long as we vote an continue to push, we will have our 50 or so percent.

        • Keep dreaming. The central valley numbers are nothing compared to San Francisco. Sacramento. San Diego and LA LOL.

        • Newsom won his election by almost 3 million votes! RETARDICANS will not get enough votes to beat that lol

          • So we just keep excepting ineptness for leadership, because people like Troy cannot overcome partisanship bias.

  9. Frank, I know state with largest GDP has inept. It’s called DEMOCRACY. RULE BY THE PEOPLE! The majority speaks.

  10. Frank you can’t even write comprehensive sentences lol. Why would I read an opinion piece! We know CA HAS LARGEST GDP! The economy is booming! Dems are thriving and winning! Newsom won his election by almost 3 million votes! He has support of majority. And all those candidates will take votes from each other. There are 3 known REPUBLICANS on same ticket. Not one will get the votes to over take Newsom

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