Signage Rears Its Head at City Council Meeting

DuBois City Building

DUBOIS – Whether the new sign ordinance in the City of DuBois is unfair to political speech became a topic of discussion during the public comments Monday night.

The ordinance calls for the removal of political signs by seven days after the relevant election or referendum.  It was pointed out by John Balliet that there was no mechanism in the ordinance for forced removal of the signs in challenging the ordinance.  Balliet argued that such a rule could unfairly affect first time runners for local offices.

City Solicitor Toni Cherry defended the ordinance on the reasoning it was meant to keep signs from remaining up long after the elections.  City Council Member Randy Schmidt stated he knew of Marc McCracken and Straub election signs that were still standing.  Cherry stated that she felt it was part of the responsibility of running for office to have the signs taken down.

“If we need to tweak it bring me the cases and sites, and I will look into it,” said Cherry.

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One thought on “Signage Rears Its Head at City Council Meeting

  1. provoking1

    During the primary election signs were removed from a polling place (Du Bois 2nd Ward) while people were at lunch. When the authority to do so was questioned (show me the ordinance that empowers you to do so ), the official could not produce it. The new ordinance still is defective in that if a person running for office places a sign outside the polling place, the stated procedure is for the code enforcement officer to send a letter notifying of the violation. Therefore, if someone were to remove signs from a polling place, as happened on primary day, they would be violating the procedure laid out in the ordinance. These signs are ones that are placed in what is known as the city right of way in front of a polling place.

    The other issue questioned is signs in homeowners yards. These signs are under the control of the homeowner. One can have a right to life or perpetual issue sign in their yard as long as the issue is ongoing. The example given was if Roe v Wade was overturned they would have seven days to remove the sign.

    After the last meeting when the proposed ordinance was amended and then passed on the spot, certain city officials were contacted about the Rudolf vs. South Park case . The reasoning was it was better to be proactive and point out the legal problems with the ordinance /the potential for the city to be sued (as numerous cities have been) and avoid the litigation costs.

    Many of the examples cited as problems (long standing signs, etc.) are actually addressed in the ordinance ~ no signs in the city right of way. This way the city does not have to have their mowing impeded by signs placed on their property that they maintain. Most candidates remove signs promptly to preserve their signs for the next election.

    The other flaw is that if a perpetual issue sign is allowed to remain in a yard, if a candidate wins a primary, then they are standing for election in the fall. So there sign is advertising an event in the future. Even after the election, win or lose, they could make the argument that they plan on running for re-election. So what you have is political signs being held to a different standard than perpetual issues signs. The courts have found that to be a limitation on free political speech.

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