Petty tyranny in Illinois

A federal lawsuit filed in Illinois is exposing what appears to be a case of bureaucratic tyranny on the local level in southwestern Illinois. Beth Hundsdorfer of the News-Democrat in Belleville reports:

Dianne Rogge, the owner of the old Pour Haus in the 1900 block of West Main Street, requested $15,000 in tax increment financing from the city to renovate the bar, but she claimed she was denied because she supported Mayor Mark Eckert's political opponent Phil Elmore. Rogge put up a sign in her window that stated, "No TIF for us, Tks B'ville."

City employees Bob Sabo, director of health and housing, and the city's building commissioner Paul Bauman sent her letters in June ordering Rogge to remove her TIF sign or face a $500-a-day fine.

Rogge is currently facing a fine of $32,000 as of today, as the fine has been accumulating since June 5th.

The basis of the fine is an ordinance regulating commercial signs:

Business owners who use signage must get a permit and pay a fee of 50 cents per square foot with a minimum fee of $15 if the sign is less than a square-foot. The sign must be approved for the location and follow the city's sign ordinance regarding size and other criteria.

Fair enough. Cities have the right to regulate commercial signage, but not political expression. The sign posted by Rogge was hand-lettered and hung in her front window. Moreover, Roggee earlier posted a similar-sized and lettered sign offering an upstairs apartment for rent, and received no hassles from the city.

This looks like a clear case of a local politician mobilizing bureaucrats to suppress political opposition. It may not be the IRS, but it is a symptom of the same disease.

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit