Podcast: A Local Government’s War on Art


The City of Manadan put some local business owners through a “five month bureaucratic nightmare just so they could play art critic.”

That’s what August “Augie” Kersten, a co-owner of the Lonesome Dove bar in Mandan, said on this episode of Plain Talk. After he paid an employee, who is also an artist, to paint a mural on the side of his business the Mandan city government came after him saying he violated local ordinances regulating public art. Even though he tried to make the situation right, opting to pay the requisite fees, the city has now taken the position that he must remove the mural which cost him roughly $3,000 to create.

If he doesn’t the city will “drag Lonesome Dove into court and fine them thousands of dollars,” Institute for Justice attorney Erica Smith said during the interview. Smith and her organization are now representing Lonesome Dove in a lawsuit against the city and she says her organization has a good track record on this sort of matter.

“We have been successful in every one of these cases” in other states, she said.

Also, should the police be able to use the uniforms as tools to achieve certain political outcomes?

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