When Bay Isles resident and at-large commission candidate Phillip Younger inquired last week about placing a political advertisement in the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center’s annual phone directory, the town attorney’s office response was no.
Younger said he approached Town Manager Bruce St. Denis about placing a small advertisement in the town’s annual publication, which would have read: “Phillip Younger for Town Commission Supports the Tennis Center.”
Younger said he was aware that the ad might raise questions because it’s a town publication.
“That’s why I went to the town first before I considered placing the ad,” Younger said.
Assistant Town Attorney Kelly Martinson rendered a 735-word legal opinion as to whether the town may prohibit political advertisements while soliciting commercial advertisements for a brochure the town is producing.
Martinson said she is of the opinion the town can only allow commercial advertisements in the brochure.
Wrote Martinson: “The ban on political advertisements must be consistently and uniformly enforced, and ideally it would be incorporated into a town policy, if not already existing, that no such brochures or other similar opportunities for advertisement provided by the town will accept such advertisements.”
Younger said he has no problem with Martinson’s opinion.
In fact, he already had a backup advertisement that he placed in the phone directory last week, which reads: “Phillip Younger and Fanny Younger Support the Tennis Center.”
“I realize the ad in question was a gray area,” Younger said. “That’s why I took the high road and placed an advertisement that has no political mention at all.”
But Younger, who has a law degree, said that the phone directory “changes the ballgame” for the town because it “puts themselves out in the market.”
“I don’t disagree with what Ms. Martinson said,” Younger said. “But because that publication sells ads, the possibility remains I could put anything I want in there. But I elected to go ahead and not make an issue of it.”
Contact Kurt Schultheis at email@example.com.
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