Friday, January 18, 2008

Star Reader Asks, Why No Story On Billboards?

Star reader Dan Mullendore pens a letter to the editor today wondering why the Star has had absolutely no coverage of the City of Indianapolis' ongoing battle to force Pinnacle Media to tear down ten billboards along inner loop interstate highways after the media company lost its third round in front of the state's Supreme Court. Mullendore writes:

Why does it seem like The Star has been ignoring a very visible and interesting news story? In the last few weeks several prominent billboards went blank. I am sure that tens of thousands of Indianapolis residents have driven by these blank billboards and wondered why. I happen to know because Tom Williams of Citizens Against Billboard Blight has been doing a good job of electronic communications. I think The Star is cheating the citizens of Central Indiana by not covering this story and The Star is getting left behind in the electronic dust.

I applaud the City of Indianapolis for trying to maintain a beautiful city, and I think the seven-year battle against these billboards has made an interesting story. The picky technical legal details might not be that gripping, but the continuing political and legal gamesmanship by Pinnacle Media might be interesting to Star readers.

Let the citizens of Indianapolis know the whole story and bring the politics out into the public for discussion where it belongs.

Readers of Advance Indiana have been provided plenty of information about the story here, here and here. Corporate greed and protecting the media industry are probably the best answers for why the Gannett-owned Star has written nothing about the story. The Star similarly refused to write a single story when the real estate brokerage industry used its political muscle a couple of years ago to get a law enacted by the Indiana legislature, which virtually put discount real estate brokers out of business in Indiana. You see, the Star earns a lot of advertising dollars from real estate brokers and didn't want to risk offending them by informing its readers about the negative consequences of the legislation on the discount brokers and the consumers who benefit from their services. Thankfully, blogs allow us to bypass big media and reach people directly with the news they don't want you to hear.


Anonymous said...

AI, have there been any new developments lately on the billboard case?

Anonymous said...

Gary, do you have a personal grudge against this billboard company? It seems you have a new post about it every week or so and now you're railing about it not being front page news.

Quite frankly, I'd say the Star probably isn't covering it because nobody, save the few people directly involved in the dispute, really cares!

[Sorry, I hate to leave a negative post because I really enjoy your blog, but, honestly, this billboard blather is getting stale!]

garyj said...

It's not that nobody cares, as you put it, just that it's a non-story for the Indianapolis Star because Dennis Ryerson thinks it would cast a shadow on Bart Peterson, therefoe would not allow it to print.
This company skirted the law and court orders, under the protection of the Peterson regime.
Gary is not reporting this because he has something against the billboard company. He reports it because it shows that Peterson and his minions allowed this illegal activity to continue because there was somethingin it for them.

Same reason the pea-shake houses have been allowed to continue operations. Frank. Maybe something will happen with that, soon!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Good grief, Don't mistake your lack of concern about the issue for how many neighborhood groups feel about this issue. Based upon the feedback I've received from readers, they are quite pleased with my coverage of this issue. I've never met the owner and don't have a grudge against him. It comes down to the rule of law. Indianapolis' ordinance backed up by 3 Indiana Supreme Court rulings upholding are at issue here. And besides, it's my blog. Don't waste your time telling me what I should or should not write about, particularly when you are being provided the information for free.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Gary J, actually this is one the Peterson administration can't be faulted on. It is the city's attorneys who have fought this out in court at the direction of the Peterson administration. That task has now fallen to the Ballard administration, which agreed to a continuance requested by the Peterson administration before it left office to have more time to review the issue. Ballard personally assured me Sunday night that he has instructed his corporation counsel to carry out the court's order to remove the signs.

Anonymous said...

To good grief

Good Grief right back at you.

I care and I'm not directly involved. Why do I care? Because it's about making sure people follow the law. It's also because there ARE community groups that do care and that are involved in this and I am interested to see who comes out on top. Why don't you care? Should Gary run everything by you to see if it directly affects you first?

Keep up the good work Gary.

Anonymous said...

but Petersons people did not enforce the court ruling!
Garyj may have been wrong about who "protected" the billboard company, but since Peterson did not follow the ruling and remove the billboards, the illegal activity was allowed to continue under Petersons Administration.

Ballard needs to step up and have the billboards removed, as per the court order.

Anonymous said...

good grief:

Just because you can't be bothered to give a rat's ass about how your city looks, or about the rule of law, doesn't mean everyone feels the same way. I'd much rather have people driving in on the freeways get a view of the skyline than some tacky billboards. I don't want to see one company's greed spoil that.

Anonymous said...

Thank God those evil billboards are off the streets and locked up so they can't harm anyone ever again. Might as well disband the police force, since the scourge of billboards has been vanquished.

Anonymous said...

About eight or nine years ago, a volunteer committee of citizens, about 60 strong, worked for months on a new signage ordinance. It was amended, but the final product was the result of thousands of hours of work by all kinds of interest groups and businesses. Including billboard companies.

Then lickety-split this company comes along and violates it. Others have violated it, too...

For many neighborhood groups, who work hard on zoning and related issues, it was just the last straw.

By the time 2007 rolled around, honestly, Bart's disingenuousness regarding neighborhood issues was palpable.

The Comp Plan was destroyed by multiple decisions by the incompetent hearing officer, Judy Conley. SHe should never have been appointed. And once appointed, her disasterous decisions should've gottne her fired, but Bart was afraid of King Ro. How's that workin out now for ya, Bart? The signage ordinance became a joke, unenforced all over the county.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of civic-minded citizens give of their time each month to work on zoning and signage cases. This single case, a stern violation of the ordinance, was a slap in the face to all those who worked so hard.

It's not like the rules are unknown.

Thank God Judy Conley didn't get to rule on this case, or the petitioner might get nine more billboards. What a tool.

Good Grief: when you actually know what you're talking about, phone something in.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Star heard you for once Gary. Front page of the online Star.