Dianne Rogge is nothing if not fiesty.
But if things keep up at this rate, she could go from owning her neighborhood pub aptly named The Pour Haus to living in one.
Her watering hole can be found in Belleville, Ill., just outside of St. Louis; Rogge wanted to renovate the building.
But after the city turned down her request for tax increment financing to pay for the job, Rogge struck back by posting a sarcastic sign: “No TIF for Us; Tks B’Ville.”
Although the sign is visible through a large pub window, it’s technically inside the pub (i.e., on the inside surface of the window). Not that it matters to Belleville officials; Rogge says they told her the sign is “political” and therefore illegal—and they’ve been fining her, she says, $500 a day for keeping the sign posted, KMOV-TV reports.
As the sign’s been up since June 5, Rogge says her total fines exceed $31,000.
But Rogge isn’t budging. In fact, she filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Belleville saying the city’s sign ordinance is unconstitutional. She seeks $50,000 in monetary compensation and damages, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.
“You’re allowed to put political statements anywhere you want and this is my business,” Rogge told KMOV. “It’s inside, it follows the sign ordinance, and therefore I’m not breaking any laws. You cannot stomp all over the Constitution; Belleville or anybody else.”
The ordinance says business owners who use signage must get a permit and pay a fee of 50 cents per square foot with a minimum fee of $15 if the sign is less than a square-foot. The sign must be approved for the location and follow the city’s sign ordinance regarding size and other criteria, according to the News-Democrat.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert—whom Rogge has opposed politically in the past, the News-Democrat reports—declined to comment to the paper and referred questions to city attorney Garrett Hoerner.
Here’s a report from KMOV:
(H/T: The Gateway Pundit)