Don Day

BOISE – They’re becoming more and more common around Boise – enthusiastic employees in front of businesses waving and shaking signs.  They might be hawking mattresses, a pizza deal – or even looking for employees.

If you’ve driven down Franklin Rd. near Curtis in Boise recently, you might have spotted this lady shaking a HIRING sign. But wait — that’s no lady!

No, this advertisement is affixed to a mechanical device meant to shake the sign in a provocative way. In this case, the ad is dressed up with a mannequin and blonde wig. But according to Scott Spjute, zoning manager for the City of Boise – this type of sign isn’t legal.

“The sign code prohibits ‘any sign that uses movement or change of lighting to depict action or to create a special effect or scene or the illusion of movement.'”

He said the city tries to keep up with signs that are out of bounds.

“When it comes to portable/temporary signs, (enforcement officers) will often initiate enforcement,” he said. “Violation of the code can result in a criminal citation for a misdemeanor.”

So why are signs on poles (or dummies) off limits, but a human being shaking a sign just fine?

It boils down to the first amendment of the US Constitution. A human being shaking a sign, even if being paid to do it, is exercising their first amendment right to speech – which can even include holding a sign advertising a tasty slice of pizza.

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Don has been covering news in Boise for 20 years. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.


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