Arlington Cracks Down on Sidewalk Advertising, Ignoring Veterans Who "Fought and Died" for Right to Wear Sandwich Boards

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StreetcornersignArlington.jpg
WFAA
Randy Brown is protesting Arlington's efforts to crack down on handheld advertising.
It's a business practice that's as old as commerce: Pay some poor soul a few bucks to stand on a corner as a cartoonish chicken urging passersby to eat his crispy, fried brethren, a somber Statue of Liberty leading the masses to freedom, opportunity, and a great deal on a tax return, or, simply as a human billboard advertising a furniture liquidation blowout.

But not in Arlington. The city has a longstanding ordinance banning handheld and temporary signs and, while it hasn't really been enforced in the past 17 years, is once again being dusted off.

"We began to see more and more people just ignore the ordinance," Rebecca Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the city of Arlington, told WFAA. "It's the city's preference businesses use permanent signs. It's just a safer way to advertise your business."

Stepped up efforts began last week, as code inspectors handed out more than 20 warnings to business owners, WFAA reports. The stated goal is to ease traffic and remove roadside distractions.

That argument seems a little thin to the business owners who pay the sign holders, not to mention to the sign holders themselves.

Among them is Calvin Watkins, a 25-year-old convicted felon who "simply dances in a Statue of Liberty costume to the honks of passing cars," per WFAA. "I got a brand new baby, so it's hard for me right now," he told the station. "This job has given me opportunity."

Randy Brown, who employs homeless veterans to advertise for Veteran's Thrift Store, is organizing a petition asking Arlington to leave street-side advertisers alone.

"As a veteran, we fought and died just to have this particular right," he says, overstating somewhat sidewalk advertising's role in America's armed conflicts. Still, he's right in that holding a sign in public sounds suspiciously like free speech.

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6 comments
bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

Republicans fought hard to make it legal again to lie about serving in the military.  So it's anyone's guess if these guys are even veterans at all.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Arlington.  One step up from "dump", and yet they are determined to "keep out the riff-raff" by prohibiting public transportation and sandwich signs.

mcdallas
mcdallas

@bvckvs Incoherent.  Try again.  Maybe speak to the issue at hand.  Or, if you're determined to speak politics, at least make a coherent argument.  Or, even, "somewhat-coherent".

animas
animas

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz For some reason Arlington City Council and P&Z has always had really strange and prohibitive signage requirements.  This goes back decades.  I like your kitty, BTW--cute face

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@mcdallas @bvckvs 

So, you don't know about the Stolen Valor laws, or the Republicans;' role in overturning them?

It used to be illegal for folks to lie about their military service.  But  a couple of years ago, several high-profile Bush Republicans were busted making such false claims in their campaigns.

The Republican congress repealed the stolen valor laws, and now it's perfectly legal for them to steal valor from the folks who actually did serve.

mcdallas
mcdallas

@bvckvs @mcdallas I had no clue that's what you were talking about until you provided this "clarity".  

However, your "clarity" is foggy.  It was the Supreme Court (#11-210 in the case of the United States vs. Alvarez) who overturned the Stolen Valor laws that were originally created (and now are being revised) by Repubs.  I'm sure that no Dem. has ever made such false claims about their military service since dirty Republicans cannot tell the truth and praiseworthy Dems never lie (not even Ken Aden or Richard Blumenthal, who both lied about their military service, according to the stolenvalor website).

That somewhat contradicts the fact that Repubs are now trying again to pass similar legislation that would pass the constitutionality test set forth by SCOTUS.

So, Repubs pass legislation.  Supreme Court strikes it down as limiting free speech.  Repubs trying to pass revised legislation (not seeing any Dem. leadership here).  At least 2 notable Dems caught exaggerating their military service.  But in your mind Repubs are to blame for "repealing" it to make lying more efficient for themselves?  

No wonder I couldn't understand your first post.

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