Ann Arbor City Council proposes, but does not vote on, anti free newspaper distribution law

ANN ARBOR (December 5, 2011): There are a number of neighborhoods in Ann Arbor where there are citizens who receive newspapers, and “newspaper-like items”, where the citizen does not pay for the newspaper. We receive a free copy of the Ann Arbor Journal, and there are some neighborhoods where a number of students receive the Wall Street Journal gratis.

Alas, not everyone who gets a free paper opens it up in time for it to be useful, and some of it turns into litter. Some of that litter is neighborhoods where people like to keep the streets tidy.

The Ann Arbor City Council is considering an anti-newspaper law, file 11-1470, which would amend the city code regarding distribution of handbills. The document with proposed changes as of the November 21, 2011 meeting is on the Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository as document 303. The ordinance in this form was not voted on. The ordinance was again put in front of council on December 5, 2011, and then tabled.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle reported on the agenda item on the nights of the council meeting. Under the headline Ann Arbor: “No Newspaper” Law Delayed, it wrote:

The council postponed the ordinance revision to its next meeting, on Dec. 5, because the content of the proposed revision had not been disseminated to the public in a timely way before the meeting.

On the night of December 5, the Chronicle’s article on Ann Arbor Tables “No Newspaper” Law cited three recent cases on unwanted delivery of newspapers, including City of Fresno v Press Communications (1994), Rowan v US Post Office (1970), and Tillman v Distribution Systems of America (1996).

When similar legislation went into place in Chicago, a blogger referred to this as a free newspaper killing law, and some amount of righteous pro-litter indignation noted that the founding fathers were in favor of free speech and newspapers. The countervailing view from Baltimore refers to the free Thursday SunPlus newspaper as littering and dumping.

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2 thoughts on “Ann Arbor City Council proposes, but does not vote on, anti free newspaper distribution law

  1. Oconnormj

    Around here, the Oakland Press engages in similar “littering and dumping”. We get the Sunday ad section wrapped in plastic on a random part of the lawn or driveway. The really annoying part is that don’t use the plastic holder labeled “Oakland Press” on the mail post (left over from the previous owner). Sometimes my dog or other neighborhood pets finds the ads before I do and decides to leave some “liquid free speech” commentary on it.

    Reply
  2. Cendra

    It’s such a comfort to know that while I won’t get police protection and my house will be allowed to burn down that at least those soggy newspapers will no longer litter my driveway. It’s so great to have a city government that cares about me.

    Reply

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