The Cities of Sioux Falls & Lennox, SD think violating the 1st Amendment is OK

Isn’t it funny in Trumpistan what’s black is white and what’s right is left. In the latest disarray is this;

Asked about recent reports of political flags being flown at street construction sites, local governments say it’s contractors’ constitutional right to do so.

Readers have recently reported the presence of Donald Trump flags at street construction sites in both Sioux Falls and Lennox, and asked if there were any regulations around political displays from contractors doing work paid for by local government.

While there was no sign of the Trump flag previously spotted near the intersection of West 41st Street and South Western Avenue on Monday, representatives of both cities said even if there were, there’s no issue.

BryAnn Becker Knecht, a spokesperson for Sioux Falls, said “It is not the practice of the City of Sioux Falls to intrude upon the constitutional rights of any entity or individual with whom it contracts.”

And Nathan Vander Plaats, the city administrator of Lennox said there was no ordinance prohibiting contractors from displaying a political flag either.

“Anybody is free to speak their mind on political matters,” he said.

While having a Trump flag or sign on their personal contractor vehicles is well within their 1st Amendment rights, planting that flag on public property is a CLEAR violation of the 1st Amendment;

In City Council of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789 (1984), the Supreme Court upheld a city ordinance prohibiting the posting of signs, including for political candidates, on utility poles, cross wires, and other structures on public property.

I’m actually surprised anyone would challenge this? Using public property to advertise political candidates (especially the president) is a big NO NO. In fact, someone should remind city employee Knecht that the City of Sioux Falls actually has a city ordinance that forbids political advertising on city property which is inline with the 1st Amendment;

97.001  POSTING ON PUBLIC PROPERTY.   No person shall nail, paste, paint or otherwise affix in any manner any sign, advertisement, picture or design whatever upon any bridge, viaduct, sidewalk, parking, parkway, boulevard, crosswalk, curb or street or upon the railing or approaches of any bridge, viaduct or sidewalk or upon any telephone, electric light or fire alarm pole or post.(1957 Rev. Ords., § 9.810; 1992 Code, § 3-1)

They even show some handy examples. Maybe someone in the Constitutional department in the City Attorney’s office needs to get a hold of Knecht and let her know about the 1st Amendment.

And if anyone has any pictures of these Trump flags being placed on city owned property please send them to me, would love to post these Constitutional violators on the site.



12 comments ↓

#1 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.01.20 at 9:08 pm

What about these clown supporters, who place Trump stores in front of Walgreens and Walmart near 41st and Louise?

I called the police about them, the police claimed it is the Trumpsters’ (not their word) constitutional rights to do that. I asked if they had a sales tax license, too, but according to the police officer I talked to, he claimed the city attorney’s position was that these clown stores (not his words) are just an exercise of ones constitutional rights and they don’t need a sales tax license because they are just taking donations.

So here are my questions: Can I have all of their merchandize for a penny? Because if not, then they have a price and thus a bonafied store without a sales tax license. Plus, how far from their clown store can they display Trump flags on boulevards owned by the city before its no longer exercising one’s constitutional rights, but rather violating local city ordinances about political signs on city property?

( and Woodstock adds: “Hay, thanks to COVID, the circus is not in town this year”…. “So we should be thankful that we at least have a clown store or two in town”…. (“Come to think of it, Trump is the first clown with big shoes and little hands”…. “What are we to make of that?”…. “I still believe Stormy, however”…. ))

#2 D@ily Spin on 10.02.20 at 9:41 am

Trump has COVID. It could be a fake method of getting out of presidential debates. If not, Republicans should run Pence instead. I’d consider not voting for Biden if they did.

Oh, signs. If they’re on public property they should be posted on YouTube with the name of the offensive contractor. There they remain throughout eternity affecting the companies business. Just because there’s no limit on private political contributions doesn’t mean business can show its preference. Uh, city government is a cloud that shows up once in awhile. They have rules that are unenforceable because there’s no appeal into court. They clear snow and spray for mosquitos but they’re mostly a sophisticated pyramid scheme with full pay and benefits for insider friends and relatives.

#3 Mike Lee Zitterich on 10.02.20 at 10:31 am

You cannot stop anyone from placing any sign on private property; you cannot force people to collect or pay a tax if it is a protected right, and you have the freedom of speech to go out and publicaly air your grievances, disputes, promote your cause, and say your peace.

I would even ‘challenge’ that Supreme Court Rulign that bars you from posting signs on Public Property.

– Mike Zitterich

#4 The Guy From Guernsey on 10.02.20 at 10:58 am

VSG,
You are notifying the wrong people.
The real shame is that the City Attorney office prolly rendered to you that opinion only after spending 10 or 20 grand for consultation by outside legal counsel.
Try the Squealer Hotline to the State Department of Revenue.
They are usually VERY intersted in payment to the state of Sales and Use Tax. Will prolly have a revenue officer drop by the ‘donation display’ with a Sales and Use Tax form, complete with a pre-addressed envelope.

#5 scott on 10.02.20 at 10:58 am

are the people selling trump trash donating all the money to trump? if not, then they aren’t taking donations, they are selling goods and making a profit. maybe the state might be interested in people not paying sales tax.

#6 rufusx on 10.02.20 at 11:57 am

I live on the street in Lennox where the Trump flag was being flown on a paver, but it wasn’t me who asked about it. Meanwhile, I had my Biden/Harris sign stolen from my front yard the morning after the “debate”. Cops “logged the event”. I guess actually protecting EVERYONE’s 1st amendment rights is not the real agenda.

And Mike – yes – you CAN stop anyone from placing “ANY” sign on any property. Zoning ordinances do that. There are exceptions for political signs, but those signs MUST be temporary, and MUST be removed by a certain date. they MUST also conform to size restrictions related to the zoning of the property.

This is a nation ruled by laws – not by personal attitudes.

#7 rufusx on 10.02.20 at 11:59 am

A few years back, a candidate for Lincoln County Sherriff learned a valuable lesson about placing political signs in the public right of way – a state highway ditch. It was my privilege to teach that lesson.

#8 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.02.20 at 10:59 pm

I hear you TGFG,

My initial reaction was that these “Trump Stores” were violating city ordinances because they extended the pro Trump flags to far along the boulevard from their “Stores”.

The officer I talked to placed all of the flags within the umbrella of the right to exercise ones constitutional rights, however, so that is when the conversation then went to the issue of a sales tax license or not.

Above, scott, I think hits it right on the spot. If there is any profit that is going to the sellers and not the campaign, then it is definitely a store and they need a sales tax license.

#9 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.03.20 at 1:11 am

rufusx,

I had my Biden signs stolen, too, last weekend. #FeloniousTrumpsters

#10 D@ily Spin on 10.03.20 at 1:35 pm

Stealing signs, how childish.

#11 Rich on 10.04.20 at 11:30 am

From personal experience, I do not and would not trust the advice or opinion of a SF police officer – the officers who one can talk to by calling the non-emergency number. They are usually patrol officers and do not have a clear understanding of laws. An officer once told me that SD law allowed neighbors to use up to 20 feet of neighboring property if it involved maintenance work of the home or yard. A police lieutenant told me the officer was wrong and would address it with the officer. I do respect patrol officers but I don’t trust what they tell me regarding laws.

I’ve seen the Trump supporters selling their materials in the boulevard or public space between the street and sidewalk at Walgreen’s and Walmart. The public cannot place signs in the boulevard in front of their homes so I don’t understand why the group selling Trump flags, shirts, signs, etc., can get away with it.

#12 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.04.20 at 10:14 pm

Rich,

I once had a police officer tell me, that because of home rule, state nuisance laws didn’t apply within the city. I then asked him if Sioux Falls had its own murder, rape, and kidnapping laws on the books, else those actions were not illegal in town. He didn’t have an answer for me on that one.

I also had an officer once tell me that he couldn’t do what I want him to do because of liberal judges.

But the officer I talked to recently, like 99% of them, was competent, courteous, and just spilling out the city attorney’s narrative.