July 4th Sign Prohibition

On July 4th, 2006, several Mentone residents and businesses that support a slower speed limit and widening of the Mentone Bridge agreed to have yard signs with American flags placed in their yards as a show of solidarity on these issues. The Mayor of Mentone, Mayor Robb Hammond, ordered the removal these signs without consulting the property owners or myself.

According to the Chief of Police, Johnny Furgeson, Mr. Hammond contacted the city attorney, Patrick Tate, on the morning of July 4th to ask about the legality of these yard signs. According to Chief Furgeson, Mr. Tate said it was illegal for these signs to be in the highway right of way or on private property without a permit. Chief Furgerson said he knew of no complaints received on this date about the signs.

On Wednesday, July 5th, I requested a permit from the town so I could legally place the signs in my yard. The town clerk, Marie Dillenbeck , knew of no such permit. I next requested and received a copy of the town-zoning ordinance on signs.

According to the town ordinance, there are 9 categorical exemptions to Mentone's sign prohibition. . The 9th exemption to the ban allows "Temporary signs" to be placed in yards. It is my opinion that these signs carrying the American Flag on the fourth of July fell into this exemption.

One of America's most cherished freedoms is our freedom of speech. From my research, the law seems clear that the government cannot ban an individual's right to express their opinion. Whether or not one agrees with the signs' message, to take away our freedom of speech and our flag on Independence Day is atrocious.


Slate McDorman

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This letter is in response to Slate McDorman's letter entitled “July 4 th Sign Prohibition.” On May 16, 2006 ALDOT held a public meeting at Moon Lake School. Before the meeting Mr. McDorman placed numerous signs on the AL 117 right of way. At the meeting Mr. McDorman was informed that the placing of the signs on the right of way was illegal and was respectfully asked to take them down.

On the 4 th of July I received a complaint that the signs were back up on the state right of way. Chief Ferguson removed all signs from the right of way. He did not remove signs on private property. The signs were returned to Mr. McDorman.

Before publishing a letter on the internet Mr. McDorman has a duty to me and the citizens of Mentone to check the facts and tell the whole story. Mr. McDorman is welcome to express his opinions in the proper forum and has done so on many occasions. However, the state highway right of way is obviously not a proper forum.

Mr. McDorman should not clothe his opinions with the American flag or use the flag to justify his actions.


Rob Hammond

Mayor, Mentone 9/4/2006

Dear Mayor Hammond,

Thank you for your response to my July 4 th posting. I appreciate your comments and hope we can clear up any confusion that may exist concerning the issue.

To accomplish this, let me first recall the conversation I had with Chief of Police Johnny Ferguson on the morning of July Fourth of this year. This conversation occurred sometime between 11:30 and 12:00 PM. During the last part of our conversation, Chief Ferguson contacted you by use of his cell phone to discuss the issue further. The conversation between Chief Ferguson and myself is summarized as follows:

  1. You had spoken with Mentone's Town Attorney, Pat Tate, that morning about the legality of my signs.
  2. Chief Ferguson explained that after your conversation with Mr. Tate, you ordered Chief Ferguson to remove the signs and that they could not be placed on the public Right of Way of Highway 117.
  3. I asked if the signs could be moved and placed next to the Public Right of Way on the private property of the residents who support these ideas/issues. I also asked if they could be placed in yards of interested residents who live off of Highway 117.
  4. Chief Ferguson explained that placing these signs on any private property, whether on or off the public right or any road in the county, is prohibited without a permit. He explained, while speaking with you on his cell phone for this part, that such action violated the town and county ordinances on signs. That I could only place my signs out without a permit if I were running for office.

I am aware of other Mentone residents who were told the same by Police Chief Ferguson as their signs were being taken down.

If the above is incorrect, I will be happy to meet with you, Chief Ferguson and all others interested in this matter to clear up any misunderstandings.

Second, please provide me a copy of all complaints relating to my signs.

Thank You,

Slate McDorman 9/24/2006