Scott LoBaido – a local patriot and artist was threaten with a summons through a cease and desist letter sent from the NYC Department of Sanitation. The letter made clear that if he did not remove a symbolic blue line on Hylan Blvd parallel to the 122 Precinct, legal actions could be taken such as summonses or worse.
As a result, Mark J. Fonte represented him.
“Cites can do one of two things, they can either paint nothing and take no position, or they can allow everybody to paint … their own political points of view on the streets,” said LoBaido’s attorney, longtime criminal defense lawyer Mark Fonte.
“But they can’t selectively say ‘my political opinion is going to be allowed to be painted and yours is not, and if you paint yours, you’re going to be subject to fines, penalty, imprisonment,’” Fonte said.
Fonte wrote to the DOT’s Assistant General Counsel Tim Cherry last week asking the city to provide copies of the cease and desist letters it sent to the mayor and others who painted their own messages on city streets.
Fonte was alluding to those behind the graffiti on municipal buildings in Lower Manhattan and other political symbols around the city to see if the city got formal permission to paint their messages.
“We needed to push back on what we considered to be their selective enforcement of the law,” Fonte, who declined to say whether he was handling LoBaido’s case pro bono, said.
But nearly a week later, Fonte said he has yet to hear back from the city.
Fonte said he is also exploring the possibility of bringing a First Amendment suit against the city in federal court or potentially joining other similar suits if the city continues to go after LoBaido.
As a result of Fonte’s hard work, LoBaido did not have to pay any summonses and did not face further legal action from the City of New York.