Big Sister is watching -- and she's grouchy

East Point homeowner Libby Bentley is looking over her shoulder these days after her public criticism of Mayor Patsy Jo Hilliard provoked a quick and disturbing response from city officials.
The trouble began July 30, when a city code enforcement officer ticketed Bentley for leaving bagged garbage by the curb for pickup, even though her city-issued trash container was already full.

An irritated Bentley decided to show her discontentment with her local government by papering all four sides of her curbside trash container with poster-sized copies of CL's own Weekly Scalawag column, which celebrated Mayor Hilliard's Enron-like fiscal stewardship of the city.

Before long, Bentley noticed that an East Point police officer was outside, taking photographs of her trash container and her house. The cop then politely told her she would have to remove the posters because they were improperly placed on city property, she says.

The next day, Bentley was still steamed, so she hung the Scalawag poster on her front-yard fence. Again, it wasn't long before the mayor's gap-toothed image had attracted the attention of city officials. A man identifying himself as a zoning department employee told Bentley that "we won't press the issue" at the moment, but if the city were to receive complaints about her anti-Hilliard display, they'd have to ask her to take it down. He didn't explain, however, what city ordinance she might have broken by exercising her First Amendment rights.

When CL asked assistant zoning director Chuck Taylor about the rules governing such signs, he said, "If you put up a sign that says, 'Council member so-and-so is a jerk,' that's not covered by the sign ordinance, so it's allowed."

As of press time, Bentley hadn't been told to remove her sign, but she's listening for that next knock at the door.