State Attorney explains decision
September 1996

What follows is a letter from State Attorney Rod Smith to Police Chief Tony Jones, August 26, 1996:

Dear Chief Jones;

Please be advised that I have directed my staff to dismiss the above cited cases [against Grantham, Rosenfeld, and Geison].

Each of these cases involves allegations that a defendant violated section 17-2 of the City of Gainesville Code of Ordinances by affixing signs, leaflets or posters to City-owned utility poles. I have reviewed each case and am convinced that the arresting officers acted correctly and professionally. Nevertheless, as recently as Friday, I personally observed numerous pieces of posted materials, both private and commercial, affixed to several downtown utility poles. Some pieces were actually attached to older materials that had obviously been posted for months.

I am convinced that either a certain historic toleration or a mere recognition of the difficulty of monitoring the posting of such material may have misled these defendants and others as to the legality of affixing materials to the City poles. It would be unwise to allow these minor offences to create a forum for those wishing to portray this office as excessively selective in its prosecutorial decisions. Moreover, it is impractical and expensive to have police officers time spent waiting to testify at a full-blown trial of such a trivial matter.

Since all of us support the idea of keeping the City clean and neat, I hope that a meeting can be scheduled with you and other appropriate City representatives to see if we can fashion a way to get a "fresh start" on this issue. I suggest a new policy that more fully and fairly advises potential violators of the City's intent to uniformly enforce the ordinance.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rod Smith

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