"Robert Lauderdale charged - again - for Illegal sign removal in Arlington, VA"
Dear Concerned Citizens,
Arlington environmental activist Robert Lauderdale and Adopt-a-Highway permits holder for Virginians Against Littering has been charged with “ …did unlawfully steal 20 signs valued at less than two hundred dollars and belonging to SCOTT SMALL.” This is a petit larceny charge under $200 not from a person. A court date of 11 June 2008 has been scheduled.
You may recall that in 2004 I was charged for the same offence by the same person on the same location as this and the charges were dropped. This time Mr. Small reported to the police that his “popsicle advertisement signs placed on Lee Highway were illegally removed…he obeyed all Arlington County and VDOT rules… he has researched the legalities...and contends they were placed legally and should not have been taken.”
Photo 1 shows a sign attached to a pole in the VDOT right-of-way and stapled to a telephone pole in violation of VDOT rules and Arlington County code.
Photos 2 and 3 show signs on private property in violation of Arlington County code. These signs were placed without the permission of the property owners.
Photo 4 shows what happens to some of these signs after the rain and wind knocks them off into the street. This would have washed down in the storm drain and into the local streams.
Again I have, at my own expense, hired an attorney to defend me, this will cost $3,000 and I have already paid a $1,500 retainer. Mr. Thomas L. O’Neill is a well connected and respected criminal defense lawyer in Arlington and I expect a vigorous defense. Hopefully a judge will hear this case and resolve many of the contentious issues left over from the last time.
This is an important case in many respects. First, the whole Adopt-a-Highway program is being challenged. If AAH volunteers are allowed to be charged and forced to defend themselves the program will be jeopardized, including the $100 million dollars the Commonwealth gets from the Federal Highway Administration for participation in the program.
Second, private property rights are not being protected, I have contacted scores of owners over the years and none of them want or like these sign on or near their properties. They and others also remove them. It is difficult to find who puts these signs up and make them stop; there is no contact information on the signs telling them whom to call.
Third, Arlington County is not enforcing their rules and laws. Drive down any street in the county and you will see innumerable violations; sign on poles, trees, school property, church property and even in parks and on bike trails. The sign installers know that they won’t be charged and can even look to the county to prosecute alleged violators like myself.
I am embarrassed to seek donations for my defense, but $3,000 is a lot of money. I have already received generous donations from several individuals and hope you can add to what Mr. O’Neill calls my “War Chest”. Please forward this e-mail and my contact information to other individuals and groups that would be interested in this important issue of stopping illegal signs and litter.
Robert Lauderdale Virginians Against Littering Permits holder 1110 N. Kenilworth St., #1 Arlington VA 22205 703-237-2415 RLL5@msn.com
#4. "RE: Robert Lauderdale charged - again - for Illegal sign removal in Arlington, VA" In response to Reply # 3
Id say two can play this game.
Id go find some bandit signs you know are clearly in the right of way, remove them, then go to mr. Small's neighborhood and place them in front of his. When he commes to remove your sign because its blocking his, Id nail him with theft charges.
Oh yea make sure your sign says "Causs.org" on it and not something like "We Steal Houses".