By Leslie Gibson

Herald-Banner Staff



Words on a yellow sign remain, but words in a city ordinance against them are deleted as of December 2007.

Planted literally and symbolically in the grassroots in the heart of the city of Rockwall, is a yellow sign, originally constructed as a wheeled, moveable sign generally sold to commercial businesses. It’s metal legs now stand planted firmly in the ground next to thickly traveled thoroughfare in downtown Rockwall: 308 N. Goliad.

Its messages are changed by the local, informal, political-issue discussion group, No Higher Taxes. Several plaintiffs for the group brought a lawsuit to the city in July 2007, to stop the city from using letters and citations over the past two years to enforce ordinance #07-56 against the sign.

The basis of the violation was wording now deleted in response to the lawsuit which read that a political sign could not be of a type “generally available for rent or purchase and/or designed to carry commercial advertising or other messages that are not primarily political.”

“There are still some issues that are going to have to be worked out,” Rockwall city attorney Pete Eckert said. He noted that most political signs are temporary.

The attorney for No Higher Taxes, James Harrington of The Texas Civil Rights Project, said the suit will still go before a judge, because there is a still a question of damages, but generally, damages are not awarded for constitutional violations. “They generally don’t award damages unless there is physical injury,” he said.

“I know my clients have quite a sense of outrage, but the case law in court decisions is not very generous in compensation of a sense of outrage,” he said.

“They should be very proud of themselves,” he said of plaintiffs Mary Lou Curtis, Sue Whitten and Steve and Debra Pruitt, who were listed on the application for injunction. “They’ve done a great job and performed a public service.”

“We want to go to trial,” Whitten said. “The only victory will be ‘Yes, they violated our rights,’” she said.

Eckert said the application for injunction is being withdrawn, but is still on the docket for now. “Then we can sift through what remains and see if anything can be tried.”

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