Author Topic: City shoot self in foot over signs-Scott Harper fails to report the truth again.  (Read 12447 times)

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ETFOG

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I just have to know why it is that Scott "hapless" Harper could not bring himself to talk about the SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT that Marty Tennant has gone through? Tell us Scott why you have such a hard time reporting the news truthfully. I can't wait for Marty to win his lawsuit for selective enforcement. Then Scott will have to report the news truthfully?

Sign enforcement draws ire
By Scott Harper, sharper@gtowntimes.com June 06, 2007
 
The City of Georgetown’s Building and Zoning Department is cracking down on sign violations and has once again started handing out fines.
The Times talked this week with two different people with two different stories about run-ins they have had with the department concerning signs.
In both cases, the term “selective enforcement” was used to sum up their feelings about their situation.
Sarah Cahill, a Maryville Pines resident who is trying to sell her home, said she found out the hard way about the city’s sign ordinance.
Cahill said she recently placed three “for sale by owner” signs around her neighborhood. One of the signs was adjacent to U.S. Highway 17 and the entrance to Maryville Pines.
On May 25, she discovered the signs were gone.
“My neighbors saw nothing and helped me look around the neighborhood to see if perhaps some kids had pulled them and just tossed them,” Cahill said. The signs were not found, so she bought more and replaced them.
To make sure she didn’t lose them all again, she took them all in at night, except for the one at the entrance to the neighborhood.
On May, 29, while at work, Cahill received a call from her son who said a city worker — she later identified him as Keith Small, the city’s new zoning administrator – stopped by their house with the sign and said it was against the law to place such signs. Small also reportedly said he was the one who took the original signs and had thrown them in the trash, Cahill said.
“He also informed him if we put out any more he'll fine us $1,500 per sign,” Cahill said. “Of course I was very upset over the whole thing. If he would have left my signs at my house with a note that it was unlawful I would not have spent more money on more signs.”
She said she called Small and asked why she could not have the signs advertising her house.

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“He said the city considers them litter and that is what they do. He informed me there is no permit I can purchase to allow me to put up these signs,” Cahill said.
She also said she is frustrated because there are signs similar to the ones she had all over the place in Maryville.
The Times checked Monday and there was a small sign, the same size as most “for sale” signs advertising a consignment shop next to the roadway across from the entrance to Maryville Pines.
There were also “help wanted” signs in the right-of-way adjacent to Highway 17 next to Angler’s convenience store.
“It's frustrating as signs are everywhere,” Cahill said. “How are all those election signs allowed that cover our streets during election times?”

Sandwich boards
On Monday afternoon, there were 12 sandwich board signs placed in front of various businesses on Front Street.
There was not one in front of the Brown Pelican Café because, according to co-owner Paul Robert, he was issued a $500 citation by Small for having a sandwich board sign in front of his restaurant.
Robert admits he received both a verbal and a written warning before the ticket was issued.
“(Small) said the reason I was warned and then got a ticket was because the city got a complaint from someone on the street,” Robert said.
He said he did not remove the sign when he received the two warnings because as he looked up and down Front Street, he saw similar signs in front of several other stores and restaurants.
“If they are going to enforce this, they need to do it across the board,” Robert said, adding Small had to “walk past lots of sandwich board signs while he was walking to my restaurant.”
He said he talked with some of the other business owners who have sandwich board signs and was told they did not have a permit either.
Robert said the sign citation is just one element he sees as a bigger problem with the city government.
“The city is definitely not pro-business. They make it very hard to be a business owner around here,” he said.
He has acquired the services of attorney Tom Rubillo, who is representing him on his case.
“The city is very selective in its enforcement,” Robert said.

City’s response
Georgetown City Administrator Steve Thomas attended the monthly meeting of the Downtown Business Association Tuesday in an effort to begin an education campaign about the city’s sign rules.
Later on Tuesday, Thomas said the city has had regulations in place concerning sandwich signs for years but has “let things slide” as far as enforcement is concerned.
Thomas said he is aware there are “a number of boards that are not in compliance” and the Building and Zoning Department will start addressing those.
“We want to educate people first and foremost, then if we need to move to enforcement we will,” he said.
In order to be able to place a sandwich board sign in front of a business, the owner must get a permit from City Hall. If the board complies with the rules of the city’s Architectural Review Board, then the fee is $25. If the sign must be approved by the ARB, an additional $30 fee is charged.
As for the situation at the Brown Pelican, Thomas said he expects Small to sit down with the owners soon “to work through this.” When asked if that means they will not have to pay the fine, Thomas said that will be up to the Building and Zoning Department.
When asked about Cahill’s situation, Thomas said only one real estate type sign is allowed, and it must be on the property that is being sold. He said directional signs are not allowed.
Thomas was also asked if Small should have thrown away Cahill’s signs instead of returning them. He referred that question to Small and Director of Development Sabrina Morris.
Morris said there is nothing in the city ordinance that says such signs have to be returned. However, Small said he went to Cahill’s home to give them back and explain the rule but no one was home.
He also said Cahill’s signs were not the only ones he picked up that day. He said between 30 and 40 signs were collected, some belonging to the Maryville Homeowners Association announcing a meeting.
Thomas, Morris and Small all said there is no selective enforcement taking place.
“When you have a lot of problems, you have to start somewhere,” Thomas said about the Brown Pelican situation. “We will be fair and consistent in how ordinances are enforced.”
They said they will check on the signs at Angler’s to see if they need to be moved.
In March, City Council was supposed to discuss and possibly vote on a new sign ordinance but the discussion was deferred.
Morris said a workshop will be held in July for council to consider the rewritten sign ordinance. 
« Last Edit: June 07, 2007, 04:43:53 PM by Marty Tennant »

Marty Tennant

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Re: Scott Harper fails to report the truth again.
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2007, 06:20:15 AM »
Sandwich board signs on Front St., per the ordinance, are not suppose to be metal framed, but wood.

The Prudential real estate office sign is metal.  Is it allowed because the Mayor is employed there?

Scott Harper told me he was going to write about my case again after the City and the SCDOT replied to my complaint.

They have now done so Scott.

The City is full of incompetent people in my opinion.  They lack common sense and common courtesy, and I think Steve Thomas talks out of both sides of his mouth, like a master bureaucrat.
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

rcferdon

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Re: Scott Harper fails to report the truth again.
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2007, 09:04:10 AM »
We're talking about signs. Why is this sign issue so important that the city needs to have someone go around pulling them up?  I guess a two foot real estate sign might impair the view of someone in a smurf car, and the sandwich boards might interfere with all of the non-stop foot traffic on Front St. In the end though, these people are just doing their jobs.

I think I might have learned about something like this in my younger days around the time I was in school. I think it's called bullshit.

Really, do the citizens of G'town care that much about this crap. If no, then our elected officials need to  It's time to make a change in these zoning laws that are keeping G'town trapped with Mayberry and look to a robust future. If you don't like the zoning laws, get someone in council that will make a change for the better.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2007, 04:52:55 PM by Marty Tennant »
« Last Edit: June 18, 2007, 10:58:25 PM by rcferdon »

Marty Tennant

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Re: Scott Harper fails to report the truth again.
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2007, 09:48:21 AM »
My friend, it is illegal to have signs in the public right of way.  This is state law.

The State doesn't enforce it against people running for public office, real estate signs, or businesses.  They leave it up to the City.  The City enforces the law using pretzel logic or none at all, in my opinion.

All the while, the state law allows organized churches to have signs in the right of way.

Go figure.  Are we enlightened now?
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

Marty Tennant

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I was told today that the Mayor has the metal sandwich board sign for Prudential on Front St. removed today.  I understand he apologized and begged ignorance.

What crap!
« Last Edit: June 07, 2007, 04:52:55 PM by Marty Tennant »
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

ETFOG

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Now little Ricky (rcferdon) are you speaking as a real estate agent or as the grandson of one of the owners of the real estate firm of Ferdon/Greene?

Of course you would think it is fine to litter up the streets with those cheap for sale signs.

The point here is the SELECTIVE ENFORCMENT and improper pursuit of Marty Tennant because he has made the city leaders look like the bafoons they really are. I hope Marty gets a big settlement for all the crap this city has done to him and his fine family.

rcferdon

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Does it really matter? Are you that interested? Do the signs bother you that much?

Yeah, we're really the real estate tycoons of G'town, let me tell you. Give me a break.

It's posts like yours that inhibit intelligent discussions here. Identify your target and reach for any pathetic jab you can find.

I guess if I wanted my coments to be meaningless, I would hide behind a screen name of letters as well. It must be some kind of creative acronym you came up with between posts.

And, "little Ricky"? Please. I'm glad you've looked over my resume, but I have had plenty of accomplishments and failures to be my own man. So, remain anonymous little buddy.

I saw half a dozen sandwich boards on the sidewalks today, but there were no noticeable foot-traffic jams behind them. They actually add a little charm to downtown. What's wrong with them? Can we not allow our businesses to thrive? Can the local government not override these sign laws or modify them, Marty?

Enlightened? I guess you've had plenty of time to research the subject during your lawsuits so intrigue me.

Marty Tennant

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The sandwich board signs are allowed in the right of way by city ordinance, although state law actually bans all signs located there, unless you are an organized church.  Hmmm.  Isn't that a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment?

Also, the city requires an insurance policy with hold harmless and beneficiary provisions to the City for these signs.  When I was researching my original municipal court case, I found that nobody at city hall was requiring the insurance coverage from the sign owners.

I could go on and on, but the one thing that stands out in this current crop of "enforcement actions" is the poor woman in Maryville.  She hit the nail on the head when she wondered why she was being targeted, but not the Mayor and city council candidates, plus other County and State candidates, such as the Sheriff, when election time comes around.

Can you say hypocrites?  Can you say above the law?  Can you say lawmakers are lawbreakers?

Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

Ilya Kuryakin

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Of course you read the article.  Did you notice the name of the new Zoning Administrator?  Do you know what his previous job was?

Marty Tennant

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someone told me he came from the city police dept.
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

Ilya Kuryakin

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Yes.  The last time I saw him in uniform he was a sergeant. 

He was a member of the Selective Enforcement Team that was sent to enforce the open container ordinance during the Big Blow Auction back in 2006.  My cup of Coca-Cola almost cost me a trip to Lane's Inn.

Thankfully, the SET was able to round up all the scofflaws and keep that rowdy Boat Show crowd from getting too drunk and burning down the Historic District.

corruption watcher

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Does anyone know ms cahill? She needs to file a complaint that Ron Charlton's cable company sign on Elizabeth Street and Hwy17 is in the right of way along with Charlton's fence. They block the view for traffic even. Wanna bet the city won't enforce the rules on the lawbreaker Ron Charlatan?

FrontStreetMerchant

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If the city would allow businesses to place their signs perpendicular to the buildings, we wouldn't need sandwich board signs. They could also do what Charleston did years ago--individual small signs located near the curbs that would identify businesses. But, the fact remains that the city needs to be more business friendly.

Josh Miller

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Dear Front street merchant. If you would just kiss Paige Sawyer's racist behind you would get what you want. You know Paige is the ruler of your little part of town.

ETFOG

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I think it's high time the city cops write the Sawyers tickets for that ugly dog pooping in everyone's yard and on Front Street. They don't even try to clean up the poop. They just walk away like they own the town and can let their dog crap anywhere it wants to.

FrontStreetMerchant

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I thought we were discussing signs? If you want to slam the Sawyers, start a post about them. And, as a resident of the hysterical district, I have seen them picking up poop.

afdip

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we also live in the hysterical district and they walk past our house every day and we have never seen them pick up anything, not litter, not their dog's excrement, nada. 

ETFOG

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Afdip you better watch out. That little Phillip will stop by your house and "show you his ring up close" if you don't stop talking about his family.

afdip

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yeah, i'm barricading the window and doors as we speak.

Marty Tennant

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This thread got started by someone saying how could Scotty Harper write a story like this and not mention the saga I've been through and the fact that a federal civil rights lawsuit is pending against the City as a result of the way in which I was treated.

I've had several people approach me since the publication of the story, and they have said the same thing to me.  They specifically commented on the conspicuous absence of any mention of the Tennant sign situation.

Hey Scott!  People notice such lapses in your ability to report a full and complete story without allowing your biases and the biases of the piece of crap newspaper you work for to influence your writing.
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

ETFOG

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I cannot tell you how many people have said to me "you cannot trust the Georgetown Times and ESPECIALLY Scotty Hapless to report the news in this town"

Scott you tell people you read this site and it does not bother you so why don't you come here and tell us your story?

Marty Tennant

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I've been told that the City dropped their charges and fine against the Brown Pelican.

Can anyone confirm?  WhoDat???
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

Ilya Kuryakin

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Laissez les peines disparaître!

I really like the crawfish étouffée at the Brown Pelican.  I get it almost every time I go.

whodat

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It is true .No more citation.  Thanks to all that wrote letters and made phone calls.

afdip

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the etoufee is great and the shrimp & grits are wonderful and a nice change from tasso sauce, ad nauseam.  the question remains this:  will the city attempt to drop the proceedings against marty in his sign case??  why not??  isn't it time folks in georgetown were all treated the same under the law instead of selectively????

Marty Tennant

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it is too late for the city to drop proceedings in my sign case.  I was taken to court, not allowed to introduce facts showing the disparate treatment I received as opposed to others, and found guilty.

The only thing they could do now is to try and settle the civil rights case I've brought  claiming selective enforcement.  I'm not holding my breath.

It does appear that they new regime, after Pat Gregory left, has more sense, but not a lot more.
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

Marty Tennant

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http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18583397&BRD=2081&PAG=461&dept_id=385210&rfi=6

Did you see this today?  Now they are going after Jeanette Ard.

I take it back.  They've gone crazy at city hall!
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

corruption watcher

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I'm confused. Marty was thrown in jail for his sign but other city businesses are given tickets that are not prosecuted? Now the city is going to meet at Jeanette Ard's business to work out a solultion for her sign. Why is the paper not reporting that Marty has a great lawsuit here? Scott Harper is the poorest excuse for a reporter ever that's why.

Reader

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I am confused also. The first time I ever heard of Marty was when I read his story in the newspaper about his sign situation and one of the stories I read mentioned this website. That's how I found it. I see no need for Marty to be mentioned every time the word sign is written in the paper. I read all the papers and I don't ever recall reading about Marty in any of the others. If it wasn't for our local paper I wouldn't know about this board. So, I respectfully disagree.

Richard

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The Georgetown "waste of my" Times has failed to report that Marty has been treated differently than anyone else in this city over the sign issue. Scott Hapless had failed to report it and the editorial board has failed to call the city's hand on it. That is the point here.

Reader

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The paper has reported Marty's sign situation. That's how I knew about it. I see no need for it to be rehashed everytime another sign story is written, IMO. When the case goes to court and an outcome is reached, I would like to know what happens. The paper should report that.
I don't feel that if there is a murder in Georgetown tonight the paper needs to rehash every murder that has occured in the story, one again, IMO.
And, as a person who has written letters to newspapers occasionally, I can tell you that if you that you have the ability to write a letter to the editorial page about how you feel. If you want it on the editorial page, then put it there. Write a letter.

Richard
« Last Edit: July 14, 2007, 03:54:30 PM by Reader »

Marty Tennant

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I'll say this about all of that.

Mr. Harper advised me he would follow-up on the story after the City and the SCDOT filed their answers to my complaint.  He has not done so and it has been several months.  So much for timely reporting.

If he were to attempt a new article, he would have a conflict of interest again, as I have used him as an example in my complaint of the disparate treatment I received.  You see, Mr. Harper is allowed access to police records without delay, while I was told NO under similar circumstances.

I was also told by the arresting officer that Mr. Harper did in fact file written requests for material that is required to be disclosed immediately within 14 days.  It is my understanding that this was a lie by the officer. 

Harper is not capable of handling this story on an evenhanded basis and should be removed from it.  Unfortunately, his superiors do not see this conflict.  It makes no difference, because, as has been said repeatedly, we can't trust the Times anyway.
Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.

Reader

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Ok I stand corrected. Based on the way you have explained it, the reporter, Mr. Harper, should not write the story and since he works for the Georgetown Times, that newspaper should not write about it to avoid the appearence of a conflict.
You say you used him as an example in your complaint. You, Mr. Tennant, chose to do that, so I guess I do not blame them for not doing another story since you are saying it would be a conflict. IMO it would be a conflict for that paper to report it no matter who the reporter may be.
If you feel you cannot trust the Times, why do I see so many links to stories from that paper in posts you place, Mr. Tennant?
So, I do stand corrected. Earlier I said when the case goes to court and an outcome is reached, I would like to know what happens. The paper should report that.
I take that back. They should not report it since Mr. Tennant named them in the complaint.

 Richard