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Long Beach man cited for posters blaming Republicans

A Long Beach resident who saw a bus fatally strike a bicyclist near his home last year has turned to graphic measures to protest what he calls the city's inaction in addressing traffic concerns at the intersection.

Since September, Richard Boodman has plastered the second-floor deck railings of his Monroe Street home with signs that read, "Traffic control is out of control!" and "You may be killed! . . . The Republican Party refuses to listen!"

The signage did get the attention of authorities, who cited Boodman for violating the city code and ordered him to remove the display or face hundreds of dollars in fines or jail time.

City Manager Charles Theofan said Boodman's display amounts to political signage, and as such, must be removed no later than 10 days after last month's election.

"He put these signs up approximately six weeks before the election, specifically blaming one political party for this tragedy and specifically aimed at getting people to vote for a different political party in this election," Theofan said.

Boodman was charged with breaking a code provision that regulates the placement of temporary signs by charities, nonprofits or political organizations.

Boodman, 71, who is not registered with either major political party, balked at the suggestion that his signs were politically motivated and accused officials of trying to stifle his right to free speech.

"I blame the people who have been in office all through my years" of trying to get a consistent stop-sign policy, he said. Boodman cited a 2004 letter from a former council president saying three-way stop signs "should be placed at every 3-way intersection."

A self-described traffic safety advocate, Boodman said he's lobbied local officials for years to install three-way stop signs along several corridors. Thanks in part to his efforts, Boodman said, the city installed seven stop signs along the Olive Street corridor, including a second stop sign at Monroe Boulevard.

But Boodman said there's still no sign at one corner - and if there had been, he believes it may have saved the life of Joseph Shannon, 76, a bicyclist fatally struck by a school bus nearby in July 2008.

"How many people have to die before they put up another stop sign?" Boodman said.

Shannon's wife and daughter have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city, school district, the bus driver and others, alleging that the city was negligent in not putting a stop sign at the intersection, said their attorney Edward Paltzik of Garden City. Theofan said the lack of such a sign had no bearing on the accident.

The Long Beach police traffic division had evaluated the request for a stop sign before the accident and found it wasn't necessary, Theofan said.

The city has retained a traffic engineer and plans to execute the expert's recommendations, he said. "If he concludes that we need a traffic sign there, then we'll put it," Theofan said. "And if it doesn't, it would be the worst signal to put up a sign to placate" Boodman.

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