Gretsas' New Jihad: Newsracks

In my own newspaper's Tailpipe, there's a a piece regarding Fort Lauderdale's recent proposal to sweep the streets clean of scum. You know, like newsracks.

George Gretsas wants to take all the newsracks down -- including ones holding the best weekly in town -- and replace them with "modulars." The kicker: In his proposed amendment, he actually included the company that the modulars must be purchased from.

No, you're right. That's not legal.

It would be funny if it wasn't such a serious attack on freedom of the press. Thomas Paine is rolling around in his grave on this one.

Here's the piece in its entirety:

Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas' latest jihad seems to Tailpipe a little more serious and disturbing than his past push to remove chewing gum from the sidewalks. Now he wants to remove from those same sidewalks the freedom of the press. Or at least to hinder it with obstructive bureaucracy and energy-sucking regulations.

Seems Gretsas, who sometimes reminds the 'Pipe of that movie character who can't

seem to keep his arm from shooting into a Heil salute, can no longer stand the sight of all those wild news racks on his city's streets, even certain stylish red-and-yellow ones that contain the publication you're reading right now.

In a proposed ordinance, our little führer suggests that news racks in Fort Lauderdale bring visual chaos (which in some circles is known as metro ambiance, signifying something called democracy).

Gretsas wants to remove all the news racks and replace them with "modulars" holding two to 16 "pockets" each. Along the beach, the modulars would all be beige; everywhere else, they would be dark green.

Companies that deploy the news racks would be required to get a "certificate of compliance" from the city that would include all kinds of information, such as "plane coordinates certified by [a] professional surveyor and mapper for center of each newsrack."

Ve have vays of making you conform, Yankee pig.

But wait — there's more. Gretsas even specified the brand of news rack everybody should buy: ShoRack Models K49-16 or K-100. (City Attorney Harry Stewart informed Gretsas that this was patently illegal, so it will be mercifully struck from the ordinance.)

Certainly, Mayor Jim Naugle, a rigorous conservative, opposed these burdensome, possibly unconstitutional regulations on area businesses, right? He did what he could to strike down this attack on freedom, didn't he? No. He supported it. In fact, the only commissioner who has criticized the plan is Charlotte Rodstrom.

Thankfully, there will be public discussion on the matter before a vote. Fight it with everything you have, people. Your favorite read might depend on it.

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