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Sign-shaker gets a laugh, but raises issue

Posted: June 2, 2012 - 11:00pm

With all the things our county’s cops have to tend to, from petty thefts to violent criminals, it’s hard to imagine a less-valuable use of their time than checking a prudish complaint about a woman waving a sign.

But that’s what they had to deal with this past week when a motorist got the vapors about the wording on the sign Nancy Seitz was paid to hold on a public sidewalk. “Bite me,” the sign read, touting a mosquito-eradication service.

After a time-wasting drive-by, the deputies deemed Seitz and her sign not to be a threat to humanity. Everyone had an eye-rolling laugh at the anonymous, blue-nose complainer’s expense, and the world moved on.

As humorous as it might be, this incident raises a constructive issue that county officials might want to discuss. As companies continue to seek innovative ways to attract customers, one low-tech method has been to hire people to wave signs. Legally the businesses can’t post signs on public property, but if a person is holding the sign on a sidewalk, it’s protected by free speech rights.

But is there a limit? Would citizens demand regulation if, say, a sign-holder’s antics led to car crashes from distracted drivers?

It’s far from the biggest issue any community has to worry about. But it’s worth pondering before someone gets more than just their sensibilities hurt.

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Comments (7)

soapy_725

businesses can’t post signs

Legally, businesses cannot post signs on public property? And what about private citizens, politicians, realtors and the list goes on and on. CC has become an "impromptu advertising mecca". There are signs everywhere along the roadways and will only get worse with elections. And our "politicians", if they know the law, particularly the lawyers, should know better. How difficult is it to enforce the law? There are "phone numbers" on the signs. Call the parties and give them a week and then start the fines. A lot of revenue could be generated from these fines. It seems that "enforcing the laws" cost more than it is worth? Could this be true?

Riverman1

It's Free Speech

How is the person wearing the sign any different than a billboard that uses every technique in the book to catch the driver's attention?

Barry Paschal

Since you asked

Since you asked (perhaps rhetorically), billboards are on private property. That's the biggest difference.

Riverman1

So is safety with distracted

So is safety with distracted drivers the issue? Billboards even if they are on private property are seriously distracting with their Madison Ave. methods to get your attention. We once made a half-hearted attempt to get rid of them in the county, but everyone backed off on the proposal.

Sandwich signs on sidewalks have been around forever. I figure their legality has been tested before in various jurisdictions. There's probably been a ruling somewhere that they are legal as long as the wearer keeps moving...or something like that. So then if we agree they are legal by their presence, I couldn't objectively say their presence is any more disruptive than a pretty girl on a billboard.

Riverman1

True Thing Today with Sign Guy

I went to the Sports Academy on Washington Rd today and saw this guy holding up these multiple signs throw the things down, wipe his brow with a handkerchief and walk away. Heh. It was like he had enough and said the heck with it.

Another thing I notice that I agree is illegal. That's the small signs advertizing something stuck in the ground on public property on about every corner. Unless someone is wearing it or holding it up moving it should not be allowed.

Spelunkerman

Good GOD I Love Columbia County

The biggest story is the entrepreneur's who are making moneys waving signs to draw attention to other entrepreneur's businesses. Only in Columbia County would this even be a story. By the way, they are the LEAST distracting thing I experience when driving around the county.

Little Lamb

Dress Code

In addition to the words on the sign, the blue-nose complainer also complained about the young woman's clothing being inappropriate. The only thing I found inappropriate were her flip-flops; but then that's just because I've never found them to be comfortable for me.

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