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Should the City Limit Political Signs on Your Property?

The city will review whether it should keep the one-sign-per-candidate (or ballot item) rule in place.

Should the City of Gulfport limit the amount of political signs you can put on your property?

  • Councilor Dan Liedtke says "no."
  • Vice Mayor Sam Henderson says he's "ok" with the current ordinance if it's constitutional.
  • Councilor Jennifer Salmon says she's concerned about yards looking "junky" if there were no limit.
  • Mayor Mike Yakes says owners have to have "some sort of right."

City leaders discussed possible changes to the ordinance during their workshop on Thursday, July 19.

The discussion was prompted by Liedtke's request to review and revise parts of the ordinance.

“This town bends over backwards for liberties and freedoms and I think we should continue to do that,” Councilor Dan Liedtke said.

He believes the statute is unconstitutional because it only allows one political sign per ballot item or candidate on any property.

“My position is we cannot limit the number of signs by candidate or ballot measure, I think we can only limit the size and square footage.” Liedtke added.

"I’m sympathetic to Dan's position about multiple signs. [but] it could end up being junky,” Salmon said.

"If it’s constitutional, I’m good with it as it is," Henderson said.

Liedtke brought up a case in Arlington County that he says resulted in a 3-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidating a county law that imposed a 2 sign limit. The case is Arlington County Republican Committee v. Arlington County (1992).

Attorney Andrew Salzman said he would look into the case.

“The whole idea here is to bring us into conformity so that we don’t have any challenges and we avoid litigation," Salzman said.

What's next?

City Attorney Andrew Salzman will conduct an analysis over whether or not the city could restrict the number of signs. He will bring it back for review during the next City Council Workshop on Thursday, August 16 at 3:30 p.m. at Gulfport City Hall.

Editor's Note: Councilor Barbara Banno was not present at the workshop.

Is the current ordinance constitutional?

The issue of whether or not the ordinance is constitutional was first brought up during this year's municipal elections. During his campaign Liedtke believed the ordinance violated people's First Amendment rights.

Dan Liedtke's attorney David Schauer if the city were to enforce the ordinance because he stated it was unconstitutional. Salzman stated that the city hadn't removed any signs from private property and that the ordinance was constitutional. ()

Current Ordinance:

Section 22-17.09 Gulfport City Code:

"Signs which identify political campaigns, candidates or issues in which city residents are eligible to vote and other information pertinent thereto (hereinafter referred to as "political signs"). Political signs shall be confined within private property, shall not be erected in excess of sixty (60) days prior to the election to which they pertain and shall be removed within seven (7) days after the election to which they pertain. The candidates, the person or organization posting such signs, or the owner of the property on which the same are located shall remove all political signs. No more than one (1) political sign per ballot item or candidate shall be allowed on any property. The provisions of subsection (c) hereof shall not be applied to limit the number of allowed political signs, nor shall the number of political signs allowed pursuant to this paragraph limit the number of other temporary signs allowed under subsection (c). No unattended political signs shall be allowed on any property used as a polling place on the date of the election; and"

Bill Church July 26, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Outstanding Art - excellent analysis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Peter Stewart July 27, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Mr. Smith if the old adage is true, that ignorance is bliss.....you must be a very happy fellow!
Cherlene Willis July 27, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Hello everyone, I've taken down a few comments that violate our terms of use. Feel free to check out the "terms of use" for more information. http://gulfport.patch.com/terms Again, we greatly appreciate it when our readers agree to disagree in a respectful manner. Thanks, Cherlene
Bill Church July 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Hey Cherlene, it is too bad that many people do not use their real or full names when they send nasty grams - since that exposes their true nature to the world. Being nasty only hurts the person doing it - as for me my real name is ???? - Bill Church is my pen name - ha ha - how did it get on my passport then???
Mr. Fish July 27, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Passing ordinances and laws that violate superior laws is not unusual in Gulfport. This law has been on the books for many years and until a concerned citizen with a backbone like Dan Liedtke stands up and confronts the mentality that Gulfport laws trump all others including but not limited to the United States Constitution will this town ever move in the direction of equality for all its citizens.
Bill Church July 27, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Mr. Fish - outstanding commentary - right on point - I am sure that you are familiar with our city's battle to keep the 'no smoking on the beach' ordinance in place - despite the state's law which prempts cities and counties from drafting their own laws while quickly revising the 'firearms' ordinance due to the states imposition of fines and penalties to those cities or counties that draft their own laws which conflict with state law - same wording in both laws but our city chooses to use our tax money to fight a court fight that they can not win!!
Juju Stevens July 29, 2012 at 03:55 PM
The idea of living somewhere where a candidate is judged by his wife's expression of HER views ? vile, sexist and dated. The concept that multiple persons in one household could possibly disagree and put up opposing signs ? it happens. Free speech applies to all the occupants and multiple signs just make both occupants look a little silly. Their choice. To me, rather than limiting content (gee, I believe that's where the Consitution kicks in), limit duration. WTF do we have to endure signs for months on end ? Can't there be a limit on the time duration of speech (aka signage), rather than the content ? 2 weeks before the election and 3 days after would seem to make sense.
Mark L Grantham July 29, 2012 at 05:42 PM
In no way do I wish most of Gulfport to look like a gated community/cookie cutter community, I do think that there should be a limit on the number of political signs in a yard. In a perfect world, we would all be considerate of our neighbor, we would take down the political signs after the election was over, we would enter into a debate with an open mind, we do not louise in this perfect world. To me, it is not as much about looking junky, as it is "overkill". If there are multiple signs in a yard, does the car, pedestrian or elector notice the signs? I know I do not! I also feel it is the responsibility of the candidate to remove these signs after the election, thankfully the person in my Ward did just that, the signs were down within 24 hours, not so for some of the other candidates.
mtober July 29, 2012 at 07:12 PM
calling people an idiot is ok?
mtober July 29, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Threatning a lawsuit against the same City you wish to serve is having a backbone? There were better ways to handle it and not make it a campaign issue. Liedtke surely knew the law when he signed up to run for office. I suggest amending the ordinance to allow one sign per candidate. Caring about the appearance of the City shouldn't be an issue. Who cares if it looks junky for 120 days every year.
mtober July 29, 2012 at 07:31 PM
..and of course the Mayor shows his ignorance by saying that "owners" have to have some right? How about the renters Mayor? isn't this supposed to apply to everbody?
mtober July 29, 2012 at 07:34 PM
@Bill Church - please help me understand why Andy Strickland is hell bent on attacking only Gulfport and not the other municipalities that have similar ordinances - i.e. Sarasota, etc.? Why have there been no smoke-ins there? Can't find his way down there or does this really all stem from a personal vendetta perhaps?
jo July 29, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Juju, Ask yourself when was the last time you heard anything from one of the councilmens wives? They are pretty much "controlled" They remind me of the evolution chart....they are to the far left. Same thing goes for the "handlers" wife, they aren't even seen,let alone heard!!! I stand for what is fair and just, and if these idiots want to call it "emotions" so be it. And as far as Strickland goes,Dave use to be his CPA.....until!
jo July 29, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Oh, this William Smith, if it's even his real name, sounds like somebody else i know.........................................FV!
Bill Church July 30, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Dear mtober - no - there is nothing personal here - Gulfport just happens to be the closest city - please familiarize yourself with the facts - our city chose to quickly bring the 'firearms' ordinance into state compliance because there is a $5,000 fine for city officials - city attorney included and no taxpayer money may be used in defense of a law suit where the state no smoking law does not have any penaltys - so our officials choose to continue their resistance to following the law - since they are using our tax dollars to fight a losing battle - why???
jo July 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Mr. Church, With all due respect, it IS personal...................Please familiarize yourself WITH ALL THE FACTS!! And if you would like to hear them, you are more than welcome to stop by and get the WHOLE STORY!!!
Mark L Grantham July 30, 2012 at 01:22 PM
A property owner can out up all of the signs they wish, hopefully, the city will look at this and come to an agreement on this matter. to me, the voter should be educated, knowledgeable and informed. hopefully a vote is not cast on the appearances of a sign, signs like ads and fliers can be very visually appealing. when a property has a myriad of signs on the property, it looks like a sale, not a campaign, to me. I do not even look at these signs, for me, it is a complete waste of money and energy. imagine if a candidate took the money and energy it took to print, hand out and then pick up these signs, and this candidate actually used this money in a constructive manner! I also agree with the concept of a time limit on campaign signs, "enough is enough"!
Bill Church July 30, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Dear Jo - the facts are very basic - state law prempts cities and counties from passing ordinances that do not conform with state law - our city has chosen to fight that but not the firearms law where penalties are invoved for non-compliance. We are a nation of laws and little Gulfport can not do whatever it wants! These are all the facts that matter - anything else is irrelevent. Fighting the losing fight is illogical and an irresponsible use of tax payer money.
Peter Stewart July 31, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Okay, let me get this straight. Mr Liedke is willing to take the city to court over the number of political signs one can place on one's yard. He states that the first amendment to the U.S. Constituation permits this. He even cites a prior lawsuit to bolster his claim.Fair enough. But, I wonder why he has not taken his H.O.A. to task? He lives in a gated community whose bylaws do not allow signage of any sort to be displayed on one's yard. So, what his is saying is that the bylaws of a gated community supercede the 1st amendment!? Until he addresses that, why is he wasting our time and the city's money with a blowhard diatribe? Can't have it both ways Mr. councilman!
jo July 31, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Mr. Stewart, he won't go there w/ the master association because he doesn't sit well w/ the rest of the board and he knows that.Outside of the wall, well it's pretty much the world according to him! He can bully the city, as he has shown, but he can't bully the board members. The board always looks out for what is best for the community in whole NOT what one person wants for his own benifit or agenda. Ask him about the speed bumps back here, he is against them. During the election he told my neighbor across the street that "YEAH, I WILL MAKE SURE YOU GET SPEED BUMPS" All knowing that across the street is Skimmer point which has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MASTER ASSOCIATION!!! The good news is, there was a petition going around the other day for the speed bumps, because there are small children on the block and cars just speed up and down. So the speed bumps will be in soon and the kids on our street will be safe. So you see if he likes it or NOT, they WILL go in.
Lynda July 31, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I have been following this discussion with some interest. Protecting First Amendment rights is certainly important, however, property signs seem to play an insignificant part in free speech, containing as they usually do no more than the candidate's name and sometimes party affiliation or in the case of ballot measures the word "YES" or "NO". Surely there are more important things for Councilman Liedke to ask the entire Council to spend time on (budgets? safety?). In my opinion this issue is a silly waste of time, emotions and energy. Nothing I have read in the comments supports giving this issue more than 10 seconds of Council time. The restriction of property signs is a proxy war for the role of local government to structure the rules under which our community lives. Since as Mr. Church has pointed out, the state of Florida has determined it will always know better than any local government what the local rules for smoking and guns (keep those dollars from lobbyists in Tallahasse!) will be, surely he and Councilman Liedke want the state to decide this issue of "free speech" for local communities, too. And remember those confused tourists who want the entire state to have the same rules for smoking and guns; they absolutely want the state to have the same regulations for property signs so all communities look the same (except the gated HOA's which can set their own rules)
Bill Church July 31, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Dear Lynda - surely nothing I have said had you read it thoroughly would lead you to say that I want the state of Florida to determine anything - you are obfuscating the issue - which is THAT the state of Florida HAS determined certain issues at the state level and that as law abiding citizens we should abide by those laws until we can get them changed as opposed to 'picking and choosing' which laws we like or dislike!
mtober August 15, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Mr. Church - I see that Mr. Strickland's lawsuit was dismissed. As I recall and please correct me if I am wrong, the case was filed in the wrong court, served on the wrong person and the time given for response was incorrect. Does Mr. trickland plan to refirle the lawsuit properly? Just curious. Thanks.
mtober August 15, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Apologies for the typo above...should be "Strickland" and "refile".
Bill Church August 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Dear mtober - not sure where you get your information - I am positive the lawsuit was not dismissed - the issue was that a city clerk signed for the service which is standard procedure at city hall but A. Salzman - our attorney - chose not to accept the service so it must be re-served to a city official - then a new trial date set by the court. As a taxpayer it bothers me that Salzman does all of these delaying tactics that he gets paid for - so it is in the best interest of his pocket book to extend the issue since he gets paid by the hour for all of those actions outside of his prescribed duties - somebody needs to get this guy under control. Remember my point about the firearms issue in our ordinances and how quickly Salzman advocated they be removed due to the attached penalties. When it could be his money - quick compliance - when it is our taxes - hey - run up the bill !!!
Bill Church August 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Dear mtober - more on this nosmoking thing. Not to forget that when the first lawsuit came to trial at the court on 49th St. A. Salzman pleaded 'nolocontendre' - no contest and basically dropped it. Then at the most recent 'smoke in' the police declined to ticket attorney Strickland per our police chief - I assume at the direction of a. Salzman or others at city hall. This makes no sense! You can not pick and choose who you ticket - so if I go down there and light up - I get ticketed? This whole thing is shabby! Just follow the state law which is clear - it preempts cities and counties from doing their own thing. If we don't like it then lobby at the state law to get it changed NOT just chose which laws we are or aren't going to follow!
mtober August 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Thanks Mr. Church ... a Gulfport Watchdogs' (FB) reader saw the disposition on the Clerk of Courts www. I don't agree with Salzman on everything either, and I agree with some of your points, however, I think he had an obligation to address the obvious errors--i.e. filed in the wrong court, etc. https://public.co.pinellas.fl.us/servlet/pcg.wsclient.servlet.CivilDocketServlet?CS__CASE=12004167CO&CS__RESULTS__KNT=10 I never supported the ordinance because the GPD wasn't enforcing the no litter, no alcohol, no fire ordinances so I didn't think this would be enforced either. I don't believe in putting ordinances on the books and not enforcing them. I have to say that, while I believe everyone should stand up for what they believe in and do anything (legal) that they wish, to prove their point I do believe part of Mr. Strickland's motives are personal just as Mr. Liedtke's were with the sign issue.And Liedtke being on this bandwagon IMO is also personal. If Mr. Strickland is truly concerned about people's civil rights he'd include all the other FL municipalities, that have similar laws, in his lawsuit. As well , I think the protesters many of which, like Mr. Strickland, don't live/work in Gulfport should do the same if their true concern is civil liberties for all. ;-) Thanks.
Bill Church August 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Dear mtober - not sure of your logic that A. Strickland should include other municipalities - why? He is paying for this action out of his own pocket - it only takes one precident decision by the court to negate all the other ordinances in conflict with state law - just as happened with Ft. Myers and the anchoring law. You are certainly entitled to your personal opinions but not your own facts - more than half the protestors are Gulfportians - the others are from neighboring cities that do NOT have such ordinances or they would be protesting there as well. Again I will say as I did to 'Jo' - the only real fact that matters here is that we - city of Gulfport - are wasting tax payer $ fighting a state of Florida law that says we can not do our own thing in the area of 'no smoking' laws - it is a fight that we will eventually lose in court despite A. Salzman's delaying tactics - only Salzman gains by these actions - we as taxpayers lose - there is no logical reason to fight this fight!!!
William Smith December 01, 2012 at 05:06 AM
The fight to keep the beach smoking friendly marches on and will not be stopped-like the energizer bunny it will go and go-because at the end of the day the fight is much more than about smoking!
Bill Church December 01, 2012 at 12:27 PM
It sure is!!! It is about misguided politicians forcing their values on the population at large who don't have the time to follow the issues and as a result are victimized. I think that any major ordinances that violate our freedoms should be on the ballot. This whole thing has been and is Shabby and dishonest. It was passed under the pretense of litter when we already have 'no litter' laws on the books. The case was heard by a judge recently and he will make a ruling in a month or so - then we - Gulfport - will have to take down the no smoking signs - more tax money wasted!!!

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