Crist visages are reverberating

Another sign goes up on a Tampa building, to the chagrin of some.

Published October 25, 2006

TAMPA — The Republican Party of Florida had already put one gigantic Charlie Crist for governor banner on a downtown high-rise, prompting the city to call the sign illegal.

On Wednesday, they did it again, two blocks away. A city official says that one is illegal, too.

“I have to send them a notice of violation,” said Curtis Lane, Tampa’s code enforcement director.

Crist, state attorney general, whose job is to interpret and ensure state law is upheld, has not answered repeated requests for comment on whether he thinks the party’s signs bearing his image should remain.

The whole thing angers George Durfee , a St. Petersburg resident and registered Republican. He called the Times to say he had cast an absentee vote for Crist, and now wishes he hadn’t.

“The man is the attorney general of the state of Florida, and he knew and his people knew the laws before they put up that big thing on the building,” Durfee said.

“It’s almost like he shows no respect of the law for doing that. I really question the man’s integrity. He should be ashamed.”

Others simply shrugged.

“It doesn’t bother me, but it doesn’t surprise me, either,” said Ken Kronewetter  , who works in downtown Tampa.

“This is Jim Davis’ town. But I’m a liberal. I’m probably voting for Jim Davis.”

In both cases, the property owners have 30 days from the time they’re notified of the violations to comply with the law. The Nov. 7 election is 12 days from today .

The city on Tuesday  delivered a letter to the Wilson Co., owners of the Franklin Exchange Building at 655 N Franklin St., where a seven-story, 70- by 50-foot “Charlie Crist For Governor” banner appeared  over the weekend.

The second banner, 60 by 60 feet tall, went up  Wednesday morning at the M&I Bank Plaza at 601 N Ashley Drive, across the street from the Tampa Museum of Art. Its owner is Novare, an Atlanta development company, according to  property  records.  

Looking north from the corner of Ashley and E Zack Street, you can see both banners at once.

“We believe this, like the other sign, is allowed up for 30 days without restrictions,” said Jeff Sadosky, spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida.

City Attorney David L. Smith said there are three separate provisions in the city code that deal with “political signs,” “temporary signs” and whether a “banner sign” is a “wall sign.” He planned to have an opinion today  on which ordinance the Crist banners fall under.

“These provisions didn’t contemplate these sort of measures,” Smith said.

Lane, the code enforcement director whose department issues citations, said he has not talked with city attorneys about their review.

 Another large Crist banner hangs on a Grady Pridgen office building off Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg, and can been seen from Interstate 275. Sadosky has declined to say how many such banners there are, or where they will be placed.

Times staff writer Janet Zink and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Kevin Graham can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.