A sign of the times. Someone in Porterville doesn’t like it.

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Last night I attended a City Council meeting in Porterville, California. A very long city council meeting. Item 21 on the agenda was listed as:

21. City Billboard Regulations

Re: Reviewing City signage regulations pertaining to billboards within the City of Porterville.”

This all came to be because Pastor Brent Whitley of Living Word Fellowship Church didn’t like the sign above, which he complained could be seen from his son’s high school (Butterfield Charter School) He spoke up about it at the City Council meeting October 5.

It features two young men naked from the waist up in a sexually-suggestive pose,” Whitley said. (Porterville Recorder, 10/07/21)

So, I am asking the City Council, as duly-elective representatives of the City of Porterville, to sign letters affirming that sexually graphic advertising for any purpose is not appropriate for the billboards in our community. They aren’t going to listen to one man’s opinion. We have to speak with a unified voice.”

The letters, he said, won’t cast any aspersions on The Source nor makes any kind of statement about the LGBTQ Plus community.

We are simply saying to Lamar Advertising and to any of their clients that the citizens of Porterville prefer not to have any sexually-explicit, suggestive or graphic content posted on billboards in our city because we have no way to filter this content from our children.”

Following his complaint, the Council had staff put the subject on the agenda for the next meeting (October 19, 2021) for discussion.

Porterville, in 2017, enacted an ordinance* which was designed to eventually remove “off-site” billboards from within the city limits. Since the 1st amendment to the Constitution of the United States severely limits what restrictions can be placed on content of signs, the only option is to prohibit them altogether.

The city attorney has informed the council** that they can speed up the timeline for removing the billboards. The current ordinance requires that when they are “abandoned”, they can no longer exist under the grandfathering clause that allowed them to continue to be used after the ordinance was enacted. The city attorney has advised the Council that they can set a timeline, based on past court cases of what has been adjudicated as reasonable, of 5-7 years for removal. That may be problematical, however.

San Diego apparently tried something very similar in the 70’s, and was sued. The suit went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.*** They lost.

The SCOTUS case transcript can be found here. A summary of the court’s findings can be found here.

I’m not a lawyer, of course, but it looks like Porterville will run afoul of the same situation if it tries to remove billboards from the city. Perhaps someone can check these out and let me know if the city can follow through with it’s apparent plan to “amortize” these billboards out of existence.

The City Council directed staff to bring them a proposed action to address the issue (setting a timeline that results in removal of remaining signs in the city) at a future meeting.

The city ordinance, city attorney’s advice, and SCOTUS ruling can be found after the jump.

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Even just standing around can get you in the newspaper!

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At Gay Porterville’s rally Tuesday, June 17, I got caught in the newspaper’s picture.  This image appeared in the Porterville Recorder’s print edition today.

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See my Alternating Currents blog for the story of the rally, here.

The entire photo after the jump.

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Local paper prints my online blog in their Weekend Edition

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Here’s the link to the Visalia Times Delta’s site where my blog “Alternating Currents” is posted. I was not notified that they were planning to publish my blog in the print edition, but I’m tickled they did! One minor correction to the printed edition, in the intro, they say I was at the Porterville City Council meeting that ousted Mayor Gurrola and Vice-Mayor McCracken from their ceremonial posts. I didn’t make that meeting, but I was there for the three involving the LGBT Pride Month proclamation, and it’s rescission.

A Tale of Two Cities

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

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What a difference a day makes!  On Monday, June 3, 2013, the City of Visalia‘s City Council issued it’s second LGBT Pride Month Proclamation.  On Tuesday, June 4th, the City of Porterville issued it’s first.  The two events could not have been more different.

Both cities provide online applications for proclamations, with instructions on how to turn them into the city.  Such requests are routinely handled by cities across the country, and are ways for cities to recognize citizens and groups.  Here’s Porterville’s “Request a Proclamation” page.

Visalia’s proclamation resulted in applause and friendly chatter in a standing room only crowd that overflowed into the hallway.  This year’s proclamation went mostly unnoticed by the greater community in Visalia.  Last year it provoked some media coverage and talk-radio interviews with the Mayor of Visalia, Amy Shuklian.  Porterville’s proclamation, in a meeting room at least twice the size of Visalia’s, also with standing room only and overflow into the hall, resulted in boos, catcalls, the arrest of a anti-gay protestor, and at least two calls for the death penalty for homosexuals.

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