By: Kenneth Benton
The owner of Liberty Income Tax on 810 North 13th Street, said the City of Harlingen is violating his 1st Amendment Rights.
David Perez’s company uses a costumed waver known as ‘Lady Liberty” on the side of road to generate a large portion of its clients.
“Lady Liberty” is a costume that looks like the Statue of Liberty—the franchise’s mascot.
Perez said using “Lady Liberty” outside the store is essential for business.
“I would say 99 percent of our business is drawn from ‘Lady Liberty’… it represents everything we stand for,” Perez said.
It also represents something to the City of Harlingen– an illegal sign.
“They told me because our statue of ‘Lady Liberty’ …she was considered a temporary sign,” Perez said.
Perez was issued two citations in the mail last week linked to ‘Lady Liberty.”
He called them an “injustice.”
Perez said the city’s sign ordinance makes no reference to a person in the language instead lists a sign as a “fixture”, “placard” or “structure.”
“She’s not a sign… she’s a person,” Perez said.
Code Enforcement, the city division that issued the citations to Liberty Income Tax, would not interview on camera.
However, a person close to the case said while the ordinance does not specifically mention a “costumed person,” the word “fixture” was broad enough to find Perez in violation.
Perez said he plans to bring his argument before a judge at the end of March.
He faces hundreds of dollars in fines if found guilty.
Perez said the biggest potential loss for Liberty Income Tax would be the company’s public identity.
“Without ‘Lady Liberty’… I feel our business would go down tremendously.”
The Old Guard, Old Clique Red Liners (keep the city stagnant) Code enforcement Gestapo tactics are hurting more the small businesses than helping them.
We need some changes and fast.