Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Obama, Memphis, Defacing Public Property

From Linda Shaw (thanks):


President-Elect Barack Obama Faces Charges in Memphis
Reported by: Kevin Holmes
Contributor: Shane Myers
Last Update: 1:12 pm

MEMPHIS, TN – President-Elect Barack Obama is scheduled to appear in a Memphis court on charges of defacing public property.

According to court documents, a public works employee filed the charge after he says he found 512 campaigns signs illegally placed on right-of-way land in the city. The document says the signs were found on Germantown Road, Walnut Grove Road, Sam Cooper and Mendenhall Road.

City of Memphis spokesperson Toni Holman-Turner says the employee was just doing his job. She says citations have been issued to numerous politicians in the past, including Mayoral, Sheriff and Attorney General Candidates. Memphis City Council passed an ordinance three years ago that made it illegal to place any signs near the right of way.

The ordinance was originally put in place for homeowners, to prevent them from placing signs (like for sale, for rent and yard sale signs, etc.) near the right of way. The City says campaign signs aren't exempt.

According to Holman-Turner, three letters were hand delivered to Obama’s local campaign office and there was no response. She says taking Obama to court was the next step.

Attorney Jay Bailey will be representing the President-Elect. While the City of Memphis says its employee was just doing his job, Bailey feels the city worker just had an axe to grind. "This guy just had a problem with Barack Obama and decided to use his badge."

Bailey says he plans to file a motion to dismiss this on the grounds of selective prosecution.

President-Elect Obama missed his initial court appearance, and the case has been reset to December 8, 2008, in Environmental Court. Obama and his campaign could be fined up to $50 per sign. 512 signs equals $26,500, plus court costs.

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