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Posted by on September 12, 2012.

Dunwoody: City responds to $#%@ sign lawsuit

The city has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit claiming it violated the free speech rights of a man who wants to use Dunwoody’s beautification program to insult the public works director.

The city on Sept. 6 filed a response denying claims made by local activist Joe Hirsch. Hirsch told the city his group, “Dunwoody’s Public Works Director Michael Smith is a $#%@” would like to participate in the city’s Adopt-A-Spot program. The city’s Adopt-A-Spot program allows businesses and groups to sponsor the cleanup of a section of roadway. As part of the program, the city places the sponsor’s name on a green sign along the road.

Hirsch and city officials have declined to comment on the suit.

The city rejected Hirsch’s application and he sued in August, claiming his group has a First Amendment right to sponsor the sign.

In its response, the city denied Hirsch’s claims that it violated his personal freedoms, including due process, equal protection, and rights granted by the state Constitution.

“Denial of Plaintiff’s Adopt-A-Spot Application was consistent with the stated purposes of the Adopt-A-Spot program which are to beautify publicly-owned property, to keep this property clean and debris-free, to enhance the City’s aesthetics, and to recognize participating groups for their contributions in these regards,” the city says in its response.

“Plaintiff’s Adopt-A-Spot Application presented an abuse of the Adopt-A-Spot program that jeopardizes the program’s continued existence.”

The city denies Hirsch’s claim that it has no policy prohibiting Hirsch’s intended use of the program. The city says Hirsch and other residents do not have unlimited rights to free speech. The city argues the sign is government speech, not free speech protected by the federal or state Constitution.

“Being descriptive in nature, no response is required other than to note that the right to free speech is not absolute and may be constitutionally limited and even prohibited and that Defendant did not violate any right allegedly possessed by Plaintiff,” the city says in its response.

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