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Miami Alternative Weekly Sues over Newsrack Removal

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Miami Alternative Weekly Sues over Newsrack Removal

Article excerpt

Miami alternative weekly sues over newsrack removal

The Miami News Times is suing the city of Coral Gables over the removal of New Times newsracks on the same day the alternative weekly ran a story ridiculing the city's municipal codes.

The city insists the removal was not retaliatory, asserting that the newspaper had been given fair notice of a newsrack ordinance enacted in November of last year. The paper's executives believe the timing of the seizure was peculiar.

Pending the outcome of the court action, the racks have been allowed back on the street but New Times publisher Julie Felden is seething over what she feels was an unconstitutional action by the posh Miami suburb.

Nor is she mollified by the fact that the city reported it had seized 16 racks of other newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in the same sweep.

"What they did was unconstitutional as it applies to New Times," she told E&P.

The ordinance requires all newspapers to have city-approved gloss-brown pedestal racks with a matching coin box, and gloss-beige sides. In addition, the letters of the paper's name cannot exceed 1 3/4" in height.

Painted bright red, the New Times rack has a triangular bottom and tilted top designed for a tabloid, according to Felden.

"We have really tried to work with the city," Felden said. "They say the racks are a hazard unless regulated. We have no desire to be a hazard but we cannot afford to substitute all new boxes to conform to a law that we think is simply for aesthetics and is arbitrary and subjective."

New Times editor Jim Mullin commented that the "coincidence of our story and the seizure of the boxes was very suspicious."

The story last month by Ben Greenman called Coral Gables "a place of legendary scenic beauty and comparable bureaucratic inanity, a place where you can't drop a pin without the city weighing the pin, measuring the length of the drop, and dispatching a code-enforcement officer with a taxpayer-purchased decibel meter to ensure that the noise of impact between aforementioned pin and hallowed Gables ground doesn't disturb the serenity required by Section x, subsection y, paragraph z."

The piece went on to list an "endless stream of draconian city regulations," which determine the height of private foliage, prohibit the wearing of masks by adults, and mandates that all monkeys be kept out of sight at all times. …

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