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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The heck with stimulus money, he wants Obama's help with attorneys fees



SP_302135_diez_sign PINELLAS PARK -- The "One Nation Under Obama" sign that irked some passersby on Park Boulevard so much that it was vandalized to erase "Obama,'' is gone.

County code officers had threatened to cite the sign's owner, political gadfly Randy Heine, because it violated a county rule that permits only one freestanding sign on commercial property. Heine already has his business sign on the land.

Heine had threatened to sue the county, saying officials were violating his First Amendment right to free speech by forcing him to take down the sign, which he said was political speech. Instead, Heine and the county reached an agreement. Heine could leave the sign up for 90 days. The 90 days were up Tuesday and Heine removed his sign.

But Heine isn't throwing in the towel. He's asked for help. From Obama himself.

He sent a packet of material that included pictures of the sign and copies of news stories to the White House along with a request:

"If you want me to leave it up, somebody from the White House has to call me and guarantee me legal representation on the sign. This could be very expensive. It seems like the government forces you to prove you have a First Amendment right."

Heine added, "I don't think I should be footing the bill and no lawyer stepped up to say, 'I'll take care of this.'"

-- Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

From the archives: Protesters gathered in front of Rockin Cards & Gifts in Pinellas Park to demonstrate their opposition to the "One nation under Obama" sign.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:50am]


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