Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
NOV 04- NOV 12, 2014

Free Speech Takes Precedence Here Niagara Falls Leaders Agree on Sign

By Mike Hudson

November 04, 2014

Legal in Niagara Falls: This sign hangs proudly and free on Hyde Park Blvd in Niagara Falls. A sister sign was deemed illegal by the anti-first amendment Democrats in Hamburg .

Compared to nearby Hamburg in Erie County, Niagara Falls is the land of the free and the home of the brave when it comes to political speech.

The free are the people of the city, whose right to express political views in ways that some might consider unorthodox was upheld last week. And the brave are Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Dennis Virtuoso, head of the city's Code Enforcement Department, and Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson, who ruled in favor of the First Amendment and the protection of free speech here.

At issue were two large signs opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's SAFE Act, a gun control measure that was passed in the days following a tragic school shooting in Connecticut. The signs - one had been affixed to a chain link fence so that it could be seen by traffic passing along 79th Street - and the other sits large on Hyde Park near Niagara facing passersby.

The signs say:


The Niagara Falls signs are identical to one posted in Hamburg by Scott Zawierucha on a fence outside his home. He was cited by Hamburg code enforcement officers under an obscure statute that prohibits property owners from posting signs on fences that face out onto the street.

Following a nine-month legal battle, Zawierucha threw in the towel and agreed to take the sign down in return for having the charges against him dropped.

He later claimed that the sign's content, rather than its placement on the fence, was the real target of the prosecution. He had a similar sign out when the Hamburg Town Board was controlled by Republicans, he said, and only ran into trouble following last year's election, when control of the board flipped to the Democrats.

While both Dyster and Virtuoso are Democrats who have vocally supported Cuomo in the past, they felt that the First Amendment and the rule of law were more important than partisan politics.

Virtuoso said that he checked with the City Charter following a complaint about the 79th Street sign, and found that signs were permitted whether they were for a candidate or an issue that had to do with federal, state or local concerns.

"I ran it by the mayor and the corporation counsel and they both agreed with my position," Virtuoso told the Niagara Falls Reporter.

So score one for Niagara Falls. While Hamburg may be a more prosperous municipality, what good is money if you don't have the right to say what you want?

Illegal in Hamburg. This sign was deemed illegal by the Democrats now in control of the Hamburg town board. It is not clear if the sign still would have been illegal had it been a sign supporting the SAFE Act.






Prostitutes Interviewed While at Work
Wallenda Wows Chicago But Loses Out to Hyatt Place in Niagara Falls
Dyster Use of Fast-Disappearing Casino Funds Shape Shifts From Economic Development to Day-to Day Expenses
Water Board Bigwigs Take Pay, Benefits Hikes Back to Where They Really Live
Dyster Administration Works to Retire City Deficit Plans Afoot to Offer Early Retirement Packages
Former Islamic Cultural Center attorney Now supports Islamic Cultural Center As Town Attorney for Wheatfield
Cuomo Cites Maid of the Mist Giveaway, And Unbuilt Hamister Hotel as Accomplishments
Grandinetti Leaves Video of Children Spewing The F Word on her Facebook Page
Say Goodnight to the Tonawanda News; Local Institution Gives Up the Ghost
Agencies to Hold Energy Conference in NYC What Won’t be Said Niagara Gets Short End of Power Deals
Ex-Isaiah Says God Told Him to Leave Falls; Piccirillo Talks About It To Utica Newspaper
Letters to the Editor
Celebrating Catholic Education Dinner Announces Scholarship
Gospel Music Fundraiser for Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission
Parade of Reptiles Appearing at Aquarium of Niagara Saturday
Free Speech Takes Precedence Here Niagara Falls Leaders Agree on Sign
Boring Jokes About Mayor Dyster and City Hall

Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina