West New York ordinance flies in the face of First Amendment rights, says activist

The West New York Commissioners last night voted to pass on first reading an ordinance prohibiting mobile advertising vehicles in town, a direct attack by Mayor Felix Roque on First Amendment rights, according to a local activist.

Worse, the ordinance would ban the flying of flags.

“What if I want to hang the American Flag? I can’t,” Frank Ferriero said. “Man, that’s un-American.”

The owner of TV on Wheels, Ferriero says the commissioners crafted the ordinance to counter a movement he is leading to recall Roque.

Head of a group called “Residents for a Better West New York,” Ferreiro wants West New York to change from a commission to a mayor and council form of government. He also wants the mayor recalled.

He’s been driving around town in his truck broadcasting images of Town Hall turmoil.

“I started handing out petitions and I put a commercial on the TV truck that got too much of a good response,” Ferreiro said.

The commissioners last night said they hoped to finalize the ordinance on Feb. 20.

“It is going way past just targeting me,” the activist said. “The mayor and commissioners are infringing on commercial freedom of speech.”

The ordinance prohibits bench signs, inflatable signs and portable signs. It also states that a store window can only use 15 percent of its size for any signage, and prohibits stores from having neon around their window edges. It prohibits flashing open or close LED signs, or any scrolling lit up sign.

It also specifically prohibits the flying of flags, banners and pennants.

The lone commissioner voting against the ordinance was Commissioner Count Wiley, a former Roque ally who last year bucked the mayor after the U.S. Attorney’s Office busted Roque on computer hacking charges.

“This is a violation of freedom of speech and this town is setting itself up for a big lawsuit,” Wiley said at last night’s meeting.

"Sit down and shut up!"
—Gov. Chris Christie, to a Hurricane Sandy heckler