It must surely seem to some people lately that Northport’s City Administrator Scott Collins has assumed the lofty role of a ruler who has a divine right to rule.
His directive to have a frequent visitor to Northport City Council meetings arrested by the NPD for “criminal trespass” for trying to go to a Council meeting is in defiance of the United States Constitution, the state of Alabama’s Open Meetings Act and even the Magna Carta. That was what John Earl’s attorney Patrick Andres said when he addressed the Council at the meeting after Earl’s arrest.
Ed Enoch in his Tuscaloosa News article “Northport bans frequent critic John Earl from city property” reported:
A frequent critic of Northport’s city administrator who was arrested for trespassing on Monday at the Northport City Hall before the City Council meeting is questioning the constitutionality of the city’s restriction of his access to most city properties.
John Earl of Tuscaloosa was arrested by for third-degree criminal trespass on Monday afternoon before the work session that precedes the monthly Northport council meeting, according to his attorney Patrick Andres, who attended the meeting. Earl said he made bond at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
‘He is banned from everything but recreational areas and city parks … which, again if you take that to its logical conclusion, he is banned from city streets,’ Andres said, who argued the city’s trespass notice was unconstitutional and violated the state’s open meeting laws.
Earl frequently attends Northport City Council meetings and has been a critic of City Administrator Scott Collins. Earl received a letter from Collins on Dec. 10, which informed him of the ban from city properties, Andres said.
The letter on city of Northport letterhead informs Earl, effective Dec. 10, he is restricted from entering or being on city property except for city parks and recreational areas. The letter lists the restricted spaces as city hall, the public works building, the water treatment plant, the wastewater treatment plant, fire stations, public safety building, water tank sites, and all other city-owned properties other than the parks and recreation areas.
Andres read a statement during the public comments in the meeting, arguing the ban and arrest were violations of the Alabama Open Meetings Act and Earl’s First Amendment rights. Andres asked for the council to retract the letter and restore Earl’s rights to attend the meetings.
‘There are some areas that nobody in the public should be going to, and I agree with that,’ Andres said. ‘I don’t think anybody wants to go mess with the wastewater treatment plant, but any citizen has a right to be at any city council meeting whether they are from Timbuktu or Fairbanks, Alaska, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama, if they want to come to the city of Northport and address a grievance, they have a right to be here.’
In Wikipedia the ultimate power of a ruler is explained: The Scots textbooks of the divine right of kings were written in 1597–98 by James VI of Scotland before his accession to the English throne. His Basilikon Doron, a manual on the powers of a king, was written to edify his four-year-old son Henry Frederick that a king “acknowledgeth himself ordained for his people, having received from the God a burden of government, whereof he must be countable.”
Scott Collins may be as revered by some as France’s Louis XIV was by his subjects. The French monarch was referred to as The Sun King.
If the people of Northport and its governing body The City Council allow Collins to do as he pleases then Collins may well have the divine right of a king.
“A Deo rex, a rege lex,” proclaimed James I of England or “The king is from God, the law from the king.”