Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 2, 2012

OUR VIEW: Time for Mongielo to face the music

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

— Town of Lockport auto  repair shop owner David Mongielo has gone over the line in his violation of a town sign ordinance.

If he is convicted of this latest charge of violating the law, it’s time for him to face the music. If that’s jail time, so be it. Later this month, a town justice will decide whether Mongielo is guilty and, if so, what the sentence should be.

Mongielo is accused of having his electronic videoboard change displays every few seconds to promote a benefit for Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Allen Gerhart, who lost both of his legs in an accident this past July. While the cause is undoubtedly a good one to promote, we don’t see any reason for Mongielo to advertise it on a sign that doesn’t conform to the law. That law stipulates that any sign capable of changing its format or message may not change any more than once every 10 minutes.

Mongielo was found guilty on three counts of violating the town sign law in September 2010 and was fined a total of $750. He received a one-year conditional discharge that could carry a 15-day jail sentence if he violated the law again.

We don’t doubt Mongielo’s claims that he gets positive feedback on the sign, but It seems to us that he is hiding bad practice behind good causes. Why does he believe he’s above the law, and what is he trying to prove? This is the Town of Lockport we’re dealing with, not the Vegas strip. Motorists can easily be distracted by constantly changing video signs, and that’s dangerous — hence, the local prohibition.

As a matter of fact, Mongielo knew about the law when he moved his business, and his flashing sign, into Lockport from Pendleton. He knew from the get-go what he was getting into.

Yet Mongielo continues to act as if he’s being picked on. Other merchants have no problem complying with the law.

Mongielo has argued that the law is selectively enforced, but the town’s chief building inspector said other businesses in violation of the law received warning letters and changed their signs. Why should he get a pass? He was already warned, by a town judge.

Bottom line, the law is the law, and Mongielo is subject to it, whether he agrees with the letter and spirit or not.

If he can’t abide by the law, let him face the consequences of running afoul of it.