Why political signs are allowed at City Hall

These political signs were spotted inside a window in Portland City Hall, May 28, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
These political signs were spotted inside a window in Portland City Hall, May 28, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – The corner of 5th Avenue and Madison looks more like a campaign office than a municipal building.

Signs of a political nature, championing same-sex marriage, union activism and Wisconsin-based union support group protest.org are displayed for all to see at Portland City Hall.

The office of the Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz (KOIN 6 News, file)
The office of the Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz (KOIN 6 News, file)

The signs, put in the window by Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, are completely legal, even though they show a political bias.

Because Fritz, who is a former nurse and member of the Oregon Nurses Association, is an elected official, she is permitted to air her political views. Public employees are not permitted to air their political views.

City of Portland employee Jeri Williams said she would not put signs of that nature in the window.

“I’m not a commissioner and I’m pretty sure it would get me in trouble,” Williams said.

Portland City Attorney Tracy Reeve said posting politically charged signs is legal at City Hall, but only for elected officials, according to the state statute. The statute makes clear an elected official can engage in political activity during work time.

Elections officer Deborah Scroggin said for the purposes of the statute, commissioners, like Fritz, are not considered public employees.

“They are not using public resources in the same way, they are accountable in different ways.”

“Elected officials are elected, and they are politicians by nature,” said Scroggin.

Fritz said before she placed the signs in her window, she checked with the City Attorney. Still, she said the signs are a part of who she is.

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