Court hearing to protect St. Petersburg resident’s free speech rights Thursday morning at Pinellas Criminal Justice Center, 14250 49th Street North, 10 a.m.. Meeting with Press at 915 a.m. in front of Center.
The City of St. Petersburg has decided that some speech is more acceptable than others. In 2012, the St. Pete government banned “scrolling” text on electronic signs at small businesses, but is allowing them on the dangerous I-275 Curve at Tropicana field. The city has banned “spinning” images and text at small business electronic signs, but has allowed human sign spinners to dance and spin their large signs all over town. The city has banned a business or person to finish one thought or sentence on a sign, but allows the arts venue to do so. In other words, the city thinks some speech is more acceptable than others and some speakers are more fit to speak than others. On Thursday, Dr. McKalip, this blog’s founder and editor, will put the city to the test in court as he challenges their laws as unconstitutional. Dr. McKalip has filed a motion to dimiss the citation made against him and his sign on the grounds that the city is violating constitutionally protected free speech rights. The City’s response? It is okay to use their state-granted “police powers” to decide who speaks and how they speak as long as they have good intentions.
The St. Petersburg City Council is working to stop business growth by interfering with the legitimate use of electronic
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and other signs guaranteed under the First Amendment. They St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce is not taking that sitting down and they are actively opposing these efforts, much to the relief of
small business owners. The City is seeking to stop moving text and images on electronic messaging centers (digital signs). In addition the want to require that messages stay up for at least 5
minutes and that a subsequent message can’t be related to the first.
Tonight at 6 pm the St. Petersburg City Council will accept public testimony on their proposed Sign ordinances that will kill jobs, harm
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the economy and lead to higher taxes. Based on reporting of the Sun Beam Times this story was featured last night on ABC Action news at 5:30 & 11 pm and founder Dr. David McKalip was
interviewed for the story. To justify their attack on free speech, they will rely on the faulty assertions of a very small group of well-meaning folks using invalid information to support a rather
extreme agenda to stop what they consider to be an assault to “their eyes”. They will have no data showing a public safety benefit, will ignore the economic impact and will offer only small,
nonscientific surveys to support their positions. They will even ignore the data from their own surveys that indicate the ordinances go too far! The Sun beam Times has discussed the negative impact on sign spinners, small businesses and free speech and now asks citizens to show up tonight at 6 pm to defend free speech and a prosperous economy.
There must be an animosity for successful business among government officials and members
of St. Petersburg City Council. Perhaps some special interests want to impose their own “aesthetic” sense on “the great unwashed”. Maybe the city doesn’t want businesses to open, be successful,
create jobs and offer consumers the lowest prices and quality products. That is the only way to explain the nonsensical sign law proposals being offered to St. Petersburg City Council by City