Baltimore wrong to tax billboards

Once more our fine liberal politicians (city or state, as both are the same mutated species) have reached beyond the bounds of common sense and constitutional intent to fetter the perceived "money holders." Let's go after those who have legitimately earned a dollar and squeeze out our percentage. Simple corruption.

I have to laugh at the logic in Baltimore's billboard tax ("Clear Channel sues Baltimore, calls new billboard tax 'unconstitutional,'" Aug. 16):

The billboard tax law states that "the Council has determined that outdoor advertising endangers public safety by distracting the attention of drivers from the roadway and may otherwise endanger the public health, safety, and welfare."

Billboards have been around forever, and when have we ever been unequivocally told they are an endangerment to public health, etc.? Damn those billboards, let's make them all illegal, and better get rid of street signs while we are at; don't want drivers looking for directions.

"The Council has also determined that outdoor advertising may harm the City by creating visible clutter and blight, and by promoting a negative aesthetic impact in the City," the law states.

Wow! Please let's not make our beautiful city look aesthetically unattractive. Anybody looked around at the city lately? Seen any litter? Any rats? Any clutter? Think about this: Billboards might actually hide some of the ugliness.

Clear Channel owns about 95 percent of the billboards in Baltimore and gives free ads to several city agencies, including the police and fire departments. In its lawsuit, the company states the city's new law could cost it as much as $1.5 million annually.

Those evil folk over at Clear Channel are just looking out for their own self interests, right? Does the city appreciate anything that is charitable or freely offered? And I guess that is the point. Freedom of will, the willingness of people to voluntarily give generously has never been part of the liberal mind-set. We don't want you to see a need and give help charitably, oh no, we will take and take some more to support the needs of our agenda.

And what is the bottom line? Is it a First Amendment issue? Is it an added blight to the city landscape? Is it about fairness?

Of course not. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said it herself. The ever-increasing cost of government has no accountability. The size of the tab matters little to the big city spenders. When Clear Channel offered the city $1 million in free advertising, the mayor declined saying that it wouldn't help close the city's revenue gap.

That says it all.

Mark Heck, Annapolis

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