Home / National News / Florida Man Mocks Town Officials, Paints Home with Cartoon Murals


(GULF STREAM, Fla.) — Talk about taking revenge.

When Gulf Stream, Fla., officials dismissed longtime resident Martin O’Boyle’s plans to remodel his house on the waterway, he didn’t take it lightly.

“The house [design] was beautiful, and the mayor said, ‘I don’t like the entry feature. It’s too large. It’s out of scale,'” O’Boyle told ABC News. “That would be like having 10 cancer doctors telling you, ‘You need surgery,’ and your janitor saying, ‘Everything will be all right, you don’t need surgery.’ That’s the way I took it.”

So O’Boyle, 61, commissioned an artist to paint murals depicting the town mayor, vice mayor and town manager as cartoon characters “to knock politicians down a couple of notches,” he said.

But Gulf Stream town officials took issue with that too and issued citations to O’Boyle saying the paintings violated Gulf Stream’s sign ordinance.

O’Boyle, however, was not going to budge when it came to his home and filed a lawsuit against the town of Gulf Stream, alleging its code was unconstitutional and violated his First Amendment rights.

In one of the murals that so riled town officials, a green “Shrek”-like character labeled “Vice Mayor” holds a leash attached to a donkey labeled “Mayor,” with a bucktoothed, blond woman sitting atop the donkey, court documents show.

“I’m leading this ass to Town Hall,” reads a speech bubble from the “Shrek” character.

In another, “Alice in Wonderland” characters Tweedledee and Tweedledum are labeled Gulf Stream Mayor Joan Orthwein and Town Manager William Thrasher, court documents show.

On the front of O’Boyle’s home, a Ku Klux Klan hood is painted with the words “Commissioner Thug” across it. Next to the hood are the words, “This is a satire” and “Stop the oppression,” according to court documents.

In addition, O’Boyle’s three-car garage is painted with a horizontal rainbow across it, which he said was inspired by the Equality House across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church headquarters in Topeka, Kan.

A judge from the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida ruled on June 19 that O’Boyle failed to show the town’s ordinance regulating the wall colors of homes was unconstitutional. Since the ruling, O’Boyle said the town sent him a letter stating that it would cease to require any more permits or approvals for signs.

For its part, the town has postponed O’Boyle’s municipal hearing and has not reached a decision to apply zoning ordinances to O’Boyle’s house, his attorney and son, Jonathan O’Boyle, said.

“This isn’t about paint, and they know it,” Jonathan O’Boyle said.

Since the federal ruling, O’Boyle has added four posters outside his home, deriding the same officials, he said.

One sign shows Town Manager Thrasher as a juggling clown. Another reads “Attention Taxpayers! Mayor Orthwein and Town Manager (he is in her posse) are squandering ‘your’ money!” according to photos O’Boyle sent to ABC News.

O’Boyle’s next move is to put signs inside the windows of his home to protest the town’s actions.

“Then they can’t complain at all, unless they can tell you what color lamp you can have,” O’Boyle said.

John Randolph, an attorney for the town of Gulf Stream, told ABC News in a statement that “the town does not see this as a First Amendment issue or an abridgement of one’s freedom of expression or speech. … It is about the right of government to impose reasonable, content-neutral regulations on the location of signs and … to regular aesthetics.”

O’Boyle is scheduled to appear in municipal court on July 16 to settle the dispute, his attorney said.

In addition, a two-week trial is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2014, in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida to decide if Gulf Stream’s code is unconstitutional, said Jonathan O’Boyle.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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