Special Prosecutor Warns Sign Man
A Reader Responds: “I’m feel so much safer now that the Sign Man is under investigation. I assume that the law enforcement in this area have apprehended all of the drug dealers, rapists, and domestic offenders in this region of the state. Thank goodness we are all safe. The threatening signs are being taken off our pristine roadways. We can now all go on with our lives..safe from the First Amendment. I am so glad that our taxes are
going to ridding our streets of signage…at least the Sign Man’s signage. We now have a clearer view of all of the other signage, trash, graffiti, and broken bottles. We are so lucky to have such fiscally responsible leaders of our community. I can’t think of a better way to be spending our hard earned dollers. You go Taos. NOT!!!”
While the war against terror rages in Afghanistan and fractionalized factions spit across the aisle at each other in Congress, democrats and republicans from New Mexico fight over redistricting in the federal court; while the County of Taos licks its wounds over the rejection of the LUDC by outraged citizens, the brave Town of Taos fathers and one mother pursue the dreaded sign man, hiring a special prosecutor from out-of-town to shut the gadfly up.
See letters below from persecuting attorney and, in turn, from sign man to town manager. Northrup frequently emails his muggers, the cops, regulators, and elected officials. In this the silly season, Mr. Northrup provides levity and focuses the spotlight on paranoid government leaders and their minions who will do anything for a buck.
Letter to Northrup
Dear Mr. Northrup:
My name is Dave Romero, Jr. and I represent the Town of Taos in these sign code matters against you.
It is inappropriate for you to have any contact with my clients at the Town of Taos. This includes, the governing body, the employees and staff.
Any contact with Town of Taos officials or employees without my permission will result in an Order to Show Cause filed against you in the District Court for violation of the Rules of Procedure for the District Court.
Dave Romero, Jr.
Attorney for the Town of Taos Code Enforcement
THE ROMERO LAW FIRM, P.A.
Attorneys at Law
115 South Grand Avenue,
P. O. Box 3030
Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701
Direct: 505 425 7000
Facsimile: 505 425 7003
Letter to Adame
The letter below from the Taos Sign man to Town of Taos Manager, Abigail Adame, illustrates the exceeding strangeness of today’s municipal management in Taos. A passer-by first called me about the incident last week, describing how town employees and two cop cars were attending to this very public mugging of the first amendment. Video cams were much in evidence on both sides. (The police department is reportedly understaffed and incapable of investigating the rash of burglaries but the cops have enough time to regulate “speech.”)
For the third time, as I remember, the town has confiscated Jeff Northrup’s signs but issued no citation, receipt, or document to the protester. Sadly, as shown, Jeff waits in vain for officials to show up at court and prosecute him. What gives?
Generally speaking, the sign man protests against high gas prices while promoting Smith’s low prices, advocates for the fair treatment of domestic animals (pets), and addresses issues of corruption in town government.
Indeed, the police action—officials acting under the color of law—confirms Northrup’s claims of corruption. The target of official sanction—the sign man–has now entrapped town and law enforcement officers in unlawful acts—according to a prior municipal court decision, which vindicated Northrup’s right to picket because of the unfair and arbitrary enforcement of regulations, governing road side signs, wherein commercial speech is permitted but political speech forbidden.
Northrup says he has filed an action in magistrate court against the unlawful taking of his signs. Although the magistrate courts have yet to weigh in on these issues, there may be cause for hope since the court upheld the rights of vendors to sell their wares at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (in the past). In the case of the bridge, the state of New Mexico at the urging of Taos Pueblo circumvented the law by erecting barriers that restrict both vendors and visitors from easy access to the tourist attraction. The state of New Mexico and Taos Pueblo won the battle against the so-called “rabble” but have lost the war of public relations by driving a stake into the best example of local and free enterprise.
Now we shall see if the “peoples’ court” will stand up for the people in the sign man’s case. Northrup is asking for the return of his signs. We don’t know if the constitutional issues of speech are part of the case. We do know that the Mayor and the Sign Man are engaged in a power struggle. And the Mayor is losing the public relations battle—though his nay saying supporters would disagree.
When you use cops, professional shock jocks, and code enforcement officers to stomp on what you consider a worm, the worm might turn into a moth. And Northrup is fast becoming a butterfly or local folk hero. And the Mayor of Taos, an apparently humorless individual, seems increasingly strange.
Sign Man’s Letter
Abigail: While lawfully and peacefully picketing in front of the new County Complex last Friday (2-10-12) I was approached by two Taos town employees, Rachel Romero and David Martinez, and given 15 minutes by them to remove my signs or the town would take them.
I did not pick them up, and sure enough these two employees took the signs, 15 in all, including my hand-held sign. As has become the pattern, I was not given any paperwork, ticket, or receipt of any sort for this theft. Additionally, I understand that William Morris, who is the supervisor of these two and reports directly to you, was sick and not at work that day. Therefore, I (am) guessing that you gave these employees the task of taking my signs. Is this correct, or did the orders come from elsewhere. Rachel has made it clear to me, and in Taos Municipal court while under oath, that she does not make decisions of this sort.
You may be aware that I have named William Morris in a lawsuit filed by me on Jan., 23, 2012 in Taos Magistrate Court related to the holding of my signs. I will amend that suit as necessary, and if you play a part in the taking of my signs I must know that. So a simple yes or no as to your part, or lack of a part, on what happened on 2-10-12 is necessary.
As a side note I should mention that while the taking of my signs was illegal, I tried to assist code enforcement in actually seizing an illegal sign, even carrying it and putting it into their truck for them, as any good citizen would be expected to do; at least their trip would not have been a total waste of time. However, they refused to then take the sign, and Rachel ordered (!) me to remove it. Suspecting she was trying to trick me into seizing a sign that had been illegally displayed but was now in the town custody, I refused. But then one of the police on the scene took the sign from the town truck, and returned it to the spot from which I had removed it. Go figure.
The sign in question was in front of Mayor Cordova’s restaurant, Casa Las (sic) Cordovas.
I look forward to your clarification on any role you may have played in the taking of my 15 picket signs on 2-10-12.