What Tropicana Orange Juice, Johnnie Walker Scotch, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and L. A. Campaign Contributions Have In Common
It’s nearly impossible for eastbound travelers on the I-10 freeway to miss the giant image of a mother and child in warm, fuzzy embrace as part a Tropicana Orange Juice ad covering the entire side of an office building just a stone’s throw from the roadway. Westbound motorists get an image of another sort, a five-story high bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch on an adjacent wall of the same building.
The “supergraphic” ads were erected by a company called World Wide Rush, whose president is Barry Rush of Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, a village in wealthy, bucolic Bucks County outside Philadelphia. When cited last year for illegally putting up a supergraphic ad for the Fox TV series “Dirt” in the space now occupied by the Johnnie Walker ad, World Wide Rush sued in federal district court and a judge issued an injunction against the city on the grounds that it had allowed other companies to legally erect such signs despite a 2002 ban on “off-site” advertising.
The Tropicana ad, which covers all the windows on one side of the building at 10801 National Blvd., aroused the ire of building tenants whose light and views were suddenly degraded, and a chiropractor in the building has set up a protest website. People living in the neighborhood on the far side of the freeway have also been angered by the faces and cloying smiles that greet them whenever they look down their leafy street.
The federal court decision barring the city from proceeding against World Wide Rush in 34 different locations around the city is now on appeal to the 9th Circuit, but a decision isn’t expected for at least a year. If city councilman Jack Weiss, who is now running for city attorney, is elected, he will inherit that case. Tenants and others angered by the ads on the National Blvd. building as well as others around the city may be disturbed to learn that Weiss was the recipient of a $1,000 campaign contribution in 2007 from Barry Rush, according to City Ethics Commission reports.
Rush also contributed $1,000 to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and $500 each to councilmembers Ed Reyes, Tom LaBonge, Bill Rosendahl, and council president Eric Garcetti, who said in a recent radio interview that he had never knowingly taken campaign contributions from billboard companies.
According to Ethics Commission reports, Garcetti also received a $500 campaign contribution from Mike McNeilly, the person responsible for the giant statue of liberty images illegally appearing on buildings throughout the city. McNeilly’s company, Sky Tag, has sued the city, claiming that the images are artistic expressions and protected by the first amendment.
Sky Tag also contributed $500 to Weiss and City Councilmember Jan Perry, and the art director of the company contributed $2,000 to Villaraigosa, according to Ethics Commission reports. The same person, listed as an employee of a sign company called “Tall Wall, Inc.” contributed $500 each to Perry and Weiss.Dennis Hathaway