Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik has accepted a federal court ruling that he violated a city councilor and a municipal light board member's First Amendment rights.
Knapik had Westfield DPW workers remove City Councilor David Flaherty's campaign signs from a private property across from the mayor's home in 2011 as well as signs supporting Municipal Light Board member Jane Wensley.
According to the court summary, the judge says that the mayor allowed a real estate sign to remain in place but ordered city workers to remove all the campaign signs from the yard.
On Monday Knapik accepted the findings and also agreed to pay $53,000 for attorney's fees.
According to an ACLU release, "Judge Ponsor pointed out that Knapik ordered only political signs removed and allowed a larger commercial real estate sign to remain at the same place, despite claims that signs interfered with lines of sight at an intersection; that no other person in the City had complained about these signs or their location; that the signs were placed in locations "historically and continuously" devoted to this use; and that the decision to order the signs' removal "was hasty, unprecedented, and outside [the Mayor's] normal ambit of responsibility."
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