Signs of the times

Council debates legislating political signage

Julye Keeble

Staff writer

A discussion of the legalities of an ordinance intended to regulate political signs dominated the Tuesday meeting of the Uvalde City Council. The meeting was held at 6 p.m. at city hall.

Uvalde resident Diana Olvedo-Karau addressed council, stating in 2018 the city administrator had proffered protocols for electioneering conducted at the Willie De Leon Civic Center. She said that the procedure was not enacted at the time, however council stated a plan to revisit the matter. She asked that staff work on the issue.

“We talked about that and what we talked about was have a plan in place,” said Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin Jr. “Last year when this went on, we didn’t have a written plan in place, and we couldn’t enforce anything. There will be for this next election.”

As the discussion on sign ordinance and regulation commenced, city attorney Paul Tarski said, “The present ordinance either has to be abolished or amended because, as it’s written, it is unenforceable.”

Tarski said part of the the problem with sign ordinances is the Supreme Court Reed decision. “You can amend it and throw political signs under the temporary sign ordinance,” said Tarski.

McLaughlin spoke of sign-related cases that have had legislative outcomes, including the one of Clyde Reed, et al vs. the town of Gilbert, Arizona, et al. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Reed, a pastor with Good News Community Church, who rented space at an elementary school and placed signs announcing services in the area. The town of Gilbert, Arizona, had a sign code ordinance and informed the church it was in violation. The Good News Church sued the town, claiming the ordinance violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


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