September 10, 2008 in Business

Condo protest allowed to go on

Mannequins called political statement
By The Spokesman-Review
 

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A Spokane man can continue his protest of a condo building near his house, so long as he does not target a Realtor with signs or call her, a Spokane County District Court commissioner decided Tuesday.

Commissioner Charles Rohr dismissed requests by Realtor Marianne Guenther and developer Jeremy Tangen for Jim Mahoney to be barred from continuing his demonstration, consisting of oddly dressed mannequins and signs ridiculing the project, or from contacting potential buyers at the Cathedral Point condos, 2 E. Sumner Ave. But Rohr ordered Mahoney not to pinpoint Guenther on his signs or contact her by phone.

Rohr compared the display of mannequins on Mahoney’s front yard – including a Chewbacca character from “Star Wars,” a child with a toy gun and bandolier, and a one-eyed pregnant woman – to a Halloween haunted house.

Mahoney, 56, started the protest after the four-story structure, built on the foundations of a shorter old home, blocked his view of the landmark St. John’s Cathedral on the South Hill. Mahoney and his lawyer, Lisa Brewer, argued he had a constitutional right to protest on his property.

“It’s still a political statement,” Rohr said of the demonstration. “Nobody takes that seriously.”

But mentioning Guenther personally is “clearly in my mind designed to intimidate her,” Rohr said.

Guenther and Tangen requested the order two weeks ago after Mahoney made what they described as threatening phone calls to Guenther and disrupted a May 30 open house attended by Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. Mahoney previously said only demolition of the building, where two of four pricey condos have sold, would satisfy him.

A tearful Guenther told Rohr she worried for her safety. Some of Mahoney’s signs named her or referred to her involvement in Junior League, including a lengthy poem patterned after the song “Hot Rod Lincoln” by the late Spokane singer Charlie Ryan.

“As a single mother of three children, I’m afraid of him,” Guenther told the judge. “It just kept getting worse, with more mannequins and things.”

Rohr smiled as he looked at large glossy photos of the display.

“I admire your creativity,” Rohr told Mahoney. “Are you an artist by trade?”

“It was a talent I didn’t know was emerging,” Mahoney replied.

Reach Parker Howell at (509) 459-5491 or parkerh@spokesman.com.

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