By Dan Harkins
DELTONA - Webster Barnaby isn't just the conservative of two candidates vying to represent the city's District 2 in the November general election.
He's also been doing door-to-door solicitation for the past two decades as a direct sales representative for National Write Your Congressman Inc., a nonpartisan research firm.
That's why a new ordinance proposed in recent weeks by Commissioner Zenaida Denizac takes aim at his sensibilities in at least a few ways. The ordinance seeks stricter penalties for those who solicit where "NO SOLICITING" signs are posted, and it requires permits for all but some non-profit ventures.
"If there's a (no soliciting) sign," Mr. Barnaby said in a phone interview, "then don't knock. But don't create a law to violate my free speech just because a few people out there don't respect other people's privacy."
That's pretty much what he told commissioners at a recent meeting: "Why in the world do people who sit on city commissions feel they have to legislate so many more things into law?" he told them. "We don't need more laws. ... I think the citizens just need to do what they can do to say, 'Hey, you're not welcome on my property.'"
Since commissioners appear split on how to proceed, an Oct. 25 workshop was scheduled to discuss the particulars.
As it now stands, the ordinance would impose a $100 fine against anyone who solicited at a residence where a "NO SOLICITING" sign is posted.
It also would require a city permit for anyone other than a youth representative of a non-profit organization, such as the Girl Scouts of America.
City Attorney Becky Vose recommended a $25 fee for a 30-day permit, but Mayor John Masiarczyk said 90 days would be more appropriate.
He believes the solicitation penalty is what will make a dent in the problem.
"If you post on your property 'NO PEDDLERS' or 'NO SOLICITING,'" he said, "Nobody should bother you, whether it's political, religious, whatever. I think that gets at the heart of what we're trying to do here."
Commissioner Fred Lowry asked Ms. Vose, "If a person currently has a sign violated, how do we deal with that?"
"We don't," she replied.
Commissioner Denizac said the ordinance was created in response to residents telling her that peddlers were violating their "NO SOLICITING" signs, with the city having no means to help.
By adopting it, she said, the city is balancing the constitutional rights of peddlers and the privacy rights of citizens.
"People from other counties are coming here," she said. "It's just pure annoying. That's what it is. I'm going to buy a sign that says, 'I love my vacuum cleaner and I'm happy with my God. just leave me alone.'"
Vice Mayor Paul Treusch said at the meeting the ordinance would help the city identify peddlers not obeying posted signs.
"I should be able to call a number and have that person tracked down the street and have them arrested," he said.
One resident, Patsy Dockery, told commissioners at that meeting she would feel safer knowing she could verify the credentials of the solicitor at her door.
"So at least you know (that) these are the people in the area," she said, "and you know where they're from."
She recommended - and at least a few commissioners agreed - that nonprofit groups should be made to get the permit but not pay a fee; while outside-the-city businesses should be made to pay.
Resident Ron Haenke said the proposed ordinance doesn't go far enough in explaining what type of callers can come knocking if a "NO SOLICITING" sign is posted.
"I had a guy come to my door one day," he recalled, "and I said, 'Jeez, just walk by the sign that says 'NO PEDDLING/NO SOLICITING,' and he said, 'I'm not here to do that. I'm here to give you information.' You can do all this but you haven't covered that facet."