Sunday, August 25, 2013

Solicitor Allows Political Signs to Remain on Private Property without Enforcing Township Code

Right after Township Manager Arch Liston announced the Township hired a new Code Enforcement Officer, Township Clerk Thalia TC Kay sent an email on August 15, 2013 to the Municipal Chairs of each political party stating, "The Township Clerk’s Office has been put on notice that political signs are already appearing around Galloway Township." 

Kay further stated in her email, "At last Tuesday night’s Regular Council Meeting, August 13, 2013, the Manager said that Code Enforcement would remove improperly posted signs and bring them to the municipal building for pickup by the respective parties." 

According to the Township Code, "Political or civic signs shall not be erected more than 45 days prior to an event and shall be removed within 10 days following an event." Since there are two General elections this year, the time frame the Township provided each party that political signs are permitted to be erected was:
  • Special US Senate Race – from Sunday, September 1, 2013 to Saturday, October 26, 2013
  • General Election – from Saturday, September 21, 2013 to Friday, November 15, 2013
Republican Municipal Chair Steve Moliver replied to Kay by stating, "Thank you TC for the advisory. We will certainly obey the law and follow the mandated dates for political sign distribution. To avoid any potential breach, if we opt to utilize political signs in the campaign, we will be sure NOT to distribute them until the allowed dates so there is no confusion with the constituents. I’m certain our Democratic opponents will respect the law also and the signs for their ticket that are already exhibited in Galloway will be pulled back in until the dates allowed by statute."

On August 21, 2013, Jeffrey Waldman, Esq., who is the attorney representing the Restore Galloway Democratic Council Candidates McElwee, Montag, Sudler & Suleiman, notified the Township stating the Township's code regarding political signs was unconstitutional to enforce on private properties and can not be enforced.

Waldman requested the Township to confirm in writing that the Township would not enforce the ordinance pertaining to Political Signs on private properties.  On August 23, 2013, in response to Waldman, Township Solicitor Michael Fitzgerald confirmed the political signs on private property will remain without any code enforcement. 

Fitzgerald stated in his email to Waldman, "I reviewed with the Township Manager the Ordinance restriction on posting political prior to 45 days before the election. Please let this confirm that the 45 day restriction will not be enforced as to posting of such signs on private property. In some communities the political parties have entered Into voluntary agreements to limit the timing or placement of political signs, but that’s not a Township government issue."

Although the Democratic party raised the issue regarding the Township's restriction, the victory is positive for both political parties. This will be the first local election political signs posted on private property will not be enforced by the Township.  

Political signs placed on Public property will still have to abide by the 45-day time restriction according to the Township Code. 

"We are pleased that the Township Manager recognized that to prevent a property owner in Galloway from supporting his or her Candidate (no matter the Party affiliation) by displaying a sign on private property would be intrusive upon their Constitutional Rights" The Restore Galloway Team said in a statement. contacted Republican candidate Frank Gargione who stated, "all of our comments are going through Steve (Moliver)." sent two requests for comments to Republican Leader Steve Moliver who is the leader for the One Galloway team. Both requests have not been returned prior to publication.  We requested from Moliver where the public can obtain political signs in order to support the Republican candidates and that comment also was not returned. To our understanding, Republican signs have yet to be released to the public. 

The Restore Galloway team is already dispersing their signs per their Facebook page. They can be contacted on their Facebook page or by email


Anonymous said...

I guess I will get my signs from the Demos sinces the repos can't say where theirs are at. I guess they feel no one needs them.

Anonymous said...

Good to see the attorney had the sense to prevent another lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Balanced reporting. But I havent seen one Republican sign except Frank Balles and we can't vote for him here.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the Democrats are already "bending" Township ordinances even before they are elected? This arrogance was exhibited by the Republicans for the past 12 years and shows that, in Galloway, party affiliation means nothing. Apparently, whomever holds office will pervert the township ordinances for their own goals. What a dumb move by the Democrats who are espousing "change".

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the Clerk who was a practicing Attorney already know she couldn't enforce that ordinance or is it because she is if the party that doesn't have signs out already?

Anonymous said...

They find restricting political signs to be unconstitutional yet they won't allow our local pastors to pray at a council meeting.

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