LINCOLN PARK — Those who travel through the busy intersection of Lincoln Avenue, Fullerton Avenue and Halsted Street might have noticed the giant sign hanging over the McDonald's that reads "Chicago Republican Party, Chris Cleveland, Chairman."
The city recently issued the owner of the building at 2420 N. Lincoln Ave. a violation for putting up the sign without a permit, threatening to fine the group if it doesn't follow city protocol, according to the complaint. The chairman of the Chicago Republican Party called the request "unconstitutional."
"I refuse to ask permission for any government entity before engaging in political speech. It's unconstitutional and offensive," Cleveland said in an interview.
Reporter Mina Bloom talks about Chris Cleveland's fight against the city.
Cleveland refuses to take down the sign, which he acknowledged was put up late last year without a permit because he said the city process takes too long.
"Had we bowed our heads to these bureaucrats, they would have prevented us from having the sign up during the primary. I needed that sign up during the primary season to attract volunteers," he said.
To put up a sign in Chicago, a business or property owner must apply for a special permit and hire a company to install the sign, which has been called a "burdensome" process by small business owners, according to a Crain's report. The process can sometimes take up to three months.
The sign is covering an apartment window, according to the city.
Bill McCaffrey, spokesman for the city's law department, issued the following statement Monday afternoon: “To protect the health and safety of residents, the City of Chicago requires signs, regardless of their content, to meet zoning requirements and be properly permitted and installed by a licensed sign installer. The sign in this case was installed without the proper approvals and the owner will face fines until it is in compliance with the municipal code and/or removed.”
Cleveland said he is talking to lawyers and expects to sue.
The city is threatening to charge the property owner $1,000 each day the violation exists, according to the complaint.
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