To : The Editor:
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, 6 February 2007, the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission had the first (of 3) reading on the News Rack Ordinance (# 2007-01). This ordinance prohibits single news rack placement on both public and private property in the city.
As is the custom, the ordinance was introduced by the City Planner with his statement that it was "consistent with the comprehensive plan" for the city.
Several publishers were represented, most notably the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune. They indicated that the ordinance was unconstitutional and was not needed to solve the problem. They all offered to work with the city to create some guidelines for news rack locations.
When the public comments portion of the hearing had concluded, Commissioner Coppen asked the city's attorney if he was confident the ordinance was constitutional. He replied that in the next couple of weeks his law firm would be spending a large amount of time studying it. Commissioner Coppen appeared concerned that this action had not already been done. How could an ordinance like this be submitted for final readings without its constitutionally being addressed?
Our comprehensive plan already contains phrases like "protecting the character of the city." I believe it should also include "protecting our citizens' property rights and their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms." Doesn't this help define the character of the city? Perhaps if we specifically address these rights, someone will consider them before drafting an ordinance. Protection of citizens' rights will then be "consistent with the comprehensive plan."
Dale L. Voss
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