Resident, ACLU say policy in Kingston Twp. a bad sign
By BRETT MARCY
KINGSTON TWP. – Bob Perks isn’t a political activist, and he never thought he’d have to fight just to put a campaign sign in his yard.
The 54-year-old Democrat generally prefers to keep his political views to himself.
But with a hot presidential race in full swing, he decided to step up his activity.
He searched high and low for a Kerry-Edwards campaign yard sign. After buying two at the Bloomsburg Fair, he proudly posted one in the front yard of his Pioneer Avenue home Sunday.
His public political statement didn’t last long.
On Wednesday, Perks arrived home to find his sign uprooted from his front yard and placed on his porch. Attached to the sign was a little note from the township’s zoning and code enforcement officer.
It explained that Perks had violated the township’s 23-year-old sign ordinance, prohibiting anyone in the township from posting political signs – on public or private property – until 30 days before an election.
Not only that, any resident wishing to post a sign on their property must first obtain a permit from the township office, it read.
“It really upset me,” said Perks, a 15-year resident of the township. “What you have done is you’re limiting my free speech.”
He’s not the only one offended by the ordinance.
The American Civil Liberties Union and officials of both major parties said they believe it infringes on residents’ rights to free speech and political expression.
“It’s blatantly unconstitutional,” said ACLU attorney Paula Knudsen. “That’s horrible. I can’t believe that. To physically go onto someone’s property and remove the sign … that’s even more egregious than all of the other cases we’ve had.” More…
This is one time that I agree with the ACLU – though I think the forced removal of a Ten Commandments ‘sign’ is also “blatantly unconstitutional.”