The Town Council voted not to accept any more bus advertising late Wednesday after learning a policy change last year banned most political and religious ads.
The 6-1 vote suspends new interior and exterior advertising until the council can review the town’s policy. Existing ads will stay up until their contracts end, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said.
The council apparently adopted an amended policy on June 13, 2011, that specifically excludes religious advertising “in which the primary message is one promoting or opposing religion, particular religions, religious issues, or religious doctrines.” It also excludes ads that promote or oppose “a particular view on political or social issues.”
If the council chose not to suspend the advertising program, the previously approved policy would have taken effect, and non-conforming ads would have been removed from buses, he said.
“This was an extraordinarily rare thing to ever happen in this town. It was a mistake, it was discovered, and we’re quickly taking action to remedy it,” Kleinschmidt said.
The town’s bus ad policy has been a point of contention since Church of the Reconciliation bought 98 ads in August advocating for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. The national group American Freedom Defense Initiative responded by submitting an ad for approval that refers to Muslims as savages and encourages support for Israel.