Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pinnacle Hearing Produces No Action

Today was the day owners of Pinnacle Media, LLC were supposed to report to the Marion County Environmental Court on the steps the company had taken to remove ten billboards, which have been the subject of a more than seven-year running battle with the City of Indianapolis. After obtaining a one-week delay in the compliance hearing as an accommodation to the new Ballard administration, Pinnacle's attorneys arrived in court seeking permission to allow its attorney, Bose McKinney's Allen Townsend, to withdraw his representation in the matter according to Tom Williams of Citizens Against Billboard Blight. Despite the company defying the court's order to remove the billboards by today's hearing, city lawyers did not ask the Court to impose fines or other sanctions against Pinnacle for contempt of court.

According to Williams, the City intends to work out an agreement with Pinnacle's attorneys, which will allow the City to remove the billboards if Pinnacle fails to do so. The agreement would reportedly allow the City to sue Pinnacle for the cost of removal. It is Williams' understanding that Pinnacle claims it will cost $15,000 per sign to remove them; however, the City has received a quote from a scrap metal dealer who will pay the City $10,000 per sign once they are removed.

Meanwhile, Williams reports there are still efforts underway to get an ordinance through the City-County Council which would allow Pinnacle to keep its signs, notwithstanding the countless time and expense incurred by the City over the past 7 years to enforce the law already on the books against Pinnacle. On three separate occasions, the Indiana Supreme Court has upheld the City's right to enforce the current ordinance against Pinnacle. Judge Michael Keele reportedly did not approve Townsend's motion to withdraw his appearance, a move Williams saw as just another delay tactic on Pinnacle's part. Williams believes that, unless the billboards are immediately removed, Pinnacle will continue efforts to get out of the long-standing court order against it to remove them.

UPDATE: A source has advised me that the City has offers on the table from two different sign companies offering to tear down the signs at no charge to the City in consideration for the signage materials. There is absolutely no reason for further delay. Let's get these signs taken down, now. Game over.


Anonymous said...

Reading between the lines here, this really makes me sick.

Looks like quintessenstial backroom dealing.

Anonymous said...

The city just simply needs to contract to have these signs removed immediately and present Pinnacle with the bill.
This is not a very hard decision to make.
As I recall last April, Mayor Peterson wasted no time whatsoever in taking action to remove the Indianapolis Abandoned Home Tour sign from in front of that house on Dearborn Street for an ordinance violation.
Yet Pinnacle's illegal signs stay up for years?
No back room deal just outright corruption. New name on the 25th floor but game's the same.

Anonymous said...

arrests are valid and stand per supreme court. whew. that will save some taxpayer $$$. a lucky break for the city.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well, I just drove out of the city via I-65/I-70. The really tall sign at the north split is blank. Both sides have nothing on them at all. I believe this was one of the signs in question. Seems to me that the company is at least not selling space on this billboard.

Anonymous said...

The signs (some at least) have actually been blank for some time.

Anyone know who appeared in court for the city? New Corp Counsel? New staff attorneys? Old staff attys? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Tera Kendrick is still the corporation counsel attorney of record.

Anonymous said...

Tera is incompetent. So was Kofi.

These signs need to come down--yesterday. Tell Phil Nicely to kiss the city's butt.

And give me some time to get a camera for that smooch-eroo. He's had it coming for years. He's a smarmy overconfident (for no apparent reason) zoning attorney who's walked all over neighborhoods and remonstrators for years.

Ballard can win a LOT of new neighborhood friends if he takes an aggressive stance on this case. McANA and its member associations are watching.

Pick up the phone, Greg, and tell the Corp Counsel to push this fast. Keele is obviously getting tired of the delays. It makes him look kinda silly, too.

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 5:36, Ms. Kendrick is not the problem. She is a staff attorney in the corporation counsel's office who can only do what her superiors direct her to do. She and past city attorneys have been ably representing the City in this matter. If Mr. Cotterill, the Corporation Counsel, had directed her to ask the Court to hold Pinnacle in ccntempt and impose fines against them, she would have done it.

Anonymous said...

I've dealt with her, Gary. She's in way over her head on most legal matters.

It's just that simple.

But I understand your Cotterril point. It is well-taken.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the fact that it is the same staff attorney, but now taking a wishy washy position (obviously at direction of Cotterill/Ballard/Grand) illustrates as clearly as anything that the new administration is directing a buddy-up approach with Pinnacle.

I cannot imagine otherwise an attorney who has litigated the case through to the contempt hearing stage not wanting blood when the other party shows up having failed to comply with the Court order. It's a slam dunk triumph for the city's attorney.

If it was a new attorney on the case just getting to know the case, I could see their reluctance to push until he/she was more comfortable with the case history and parties. Obviously that's not the case here.


Anonymous said...

If the billboard componies don't get a message over this mess they should.

Our roadway's and cities are not their's for trashing.