Bid to limit rolling ads falls flat

Baltimore County Council member alone in concern

October 07, 2008|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,nick.madigan@baltsun.com

By the time the Baltimore County Council wrapped up last night, T. Bryan McIntire, the panel's elder statesman, was reminded all too clearly what it's like to have a cause no one else believes in.

McIntire had suggested putting the brakes on the scrolling billboards on the sides of trucks that often hawk strip clubs and other facile entertainments. But not one of McIntire's six colleagues on the council so much as seconded his proposal.

After an awkward silence, McIntire said he would withdraw his bill, but he then began to make a case for it again.

He called the ads a "present and constant danger to safety on the roads" and cited a truck he had seen recently on which the signs changed "six times in a matter of two minutes." He called it a "major distraction."

McIntire said he would be satisfied if the council passed a law that reduced the frequency of the ads' rotations to once every half-hour and the images' dimensions to "half the size of the truck."

Still no reaction from his colleagues. They moved on.

After the meeting, the council's chairman, Kevin Kamenetz, said the notion of regulating such ads on trucks involved "an interstate commerce issue," which would put them out of the council's reach.

"How would we regulate that?" asked Kamenetz.

He did, however, introduce a separate measure that would place restrictions on so-called "changeable copy signs," which are not affixed to vehicles and often use lights to display lettering.

The last man to leave the chamber was McIntire, who said he was "disappointed but not surprised" that his initiative had led nowhere.

"I had vibes and indications from other members during the week," he said. "They were polite enough to tell me they weren't going to support it."

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