Thursday, October 18, 2012

Billboard Ballistics: Councilwomen Draw Fire From Lamar

Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak may be joking about the attack billboard in her district targeting her, but Lamar Advertising is deadly serious about it. The billboard company's sign shows her smiling with the caption "Worst economy in 50 years, Natalia Rudiak says: Let's raise taxes".  (The billboard doesn't elaborate that what the councilwoman is proposing to tax is billboard advertising.) 

Rudiak responds on Twitter "All politicians want free advertising. Thanks Lamar. I finally hit the big time!"

The PG reports Lamar has put up similar signs targeting the bill's co-sponsor Council President Darlene Harris and plans on placing more these billboards across town.  Reporter Joe Smydo quotes Lamar's attorney Jonathan Kamin as saying "we just wanted to raise public awareness about the tax that the city of Pittsburgh is looking to impose on businesses that choose to advertise".

Scenic Pittsburgh is firing back at Lamar Advertising, describing the billboards as a "misleading, unfair, and bullying tactic". Its Executive Director Mike Dawida says "billboards lower property values by 30% and pay almost no taxes; home and business owners pay thousands of dollars in property taxes while billboards pay nearly nothing".  The group previously framed the issue by claiming on it's website that an "Out-of-State Corporation Makes Millions off of the City Skyline –  (and) Pays Less than $10 in Local Taxes".

Here are links to previous PG and Trib coverage.

The public hearing on the proposed billboard tax is set for October 30th.

I'll have more on past clashes between City Council and Lamar Advertising in an upcoming blog post.

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