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Supreme Court asked to rule on Gilbert sign ordinance

GILBERT, Ariz. -- A Christian legal group is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether Gilbert's sign ordinance is constitutional.

The group, Alliance Defending Freedom, claims Gilbert's sign ordinance violates the First Amendment. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco said rules for church signs are not the same as political or other signs in Gilbert.

"Political signs can be up to 32-square-feet, but church's signs can only 6-square-feet," he said. "Political signs can be unlimited in number, while church signs can only be four per property."

The group represents the Good News Presbyterian church, which meets in an elementary school. It claims the ordinance makes its signs ineffective in attracting people to the church because, while political signs can stand for 60 days, signs advertising church services can only be up for 12 hours.

"The church has a 9 a.m. service," said Tedesco, adding that the sign could not be displayed until 9 p.m. the night before. "You know how dark it is in Arizona at 9 o'clock at night. That means no one could see the sign until 7 o'clock in the morning."

The city contends that the sign regulations for churches are the same as those for other non-commercial groups.

The ordinance has already been upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco but that is not deterring Tedesco.

"We think they've got it wrong," he said, referring to the appeals court. "There's certainly a lot of authority in other courts across the country that shows that they did get it wrong, and we certainly hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will step in to rectify the situation."

Tedesco said it could take until the end of the year before the Supreme Court makes a decision on whether to hear the case.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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