Sean Murphy, who’s lived in Woodbury for 10 years, posted a sign on his property along Route 64 on Wednesday portraying First Selectman Bill Butterly as Joseph Stalin.
“Yes, I’m thumbing my nose at him but it is a point. Bill Butterly does not dictate when anybody speaks,” said Murphy.
Butterly and Murphy have been at political odds for years, but this particular sign is in response to an ongoing lawsuit the town’s Historic District Commission filed against another resident and signs on his property.
Tom Arras posted three signs in his yard on South Main Street spelling out “WTF” last year. Arras said the letters stood for “Woodbury Wastes Taxpayer Funds.”
Within the historic district, residents have to apply for a permit or “Certificate of Appropriateness” for any structure or fixture. The lawsuit claims Arras did not apply for the permit.
Murphy said, “You can’t just go and say, ‘I don't like what Tom Arras says,’ as Bill Butterly is doing, and ‘I’m going to use taxpayer funds to silence him.’ That is absolutely way out of bounds and un-American and typical of third world dictators.”
Butterly said he had nothing to do with the filing of the lawsuit and was having heart surgery when the Historic District took action.
Butterly has been the subject of Murphy’s yard signs before. He was previously portrayed as the Grinch and also as Elmer Fudd with the caption “I’m doing a gweat job of waising your taxes.”
Murphy says it’s a freedom of speech issue and believes private residents should have the right to post any kind of message, political or otherwise, on their properties.
“You have a man who’s just seeking publicity, doesn’t care about the town, so he puts up highly offensive images,” said Butterly.
Butterly said the town has received one formal complaint about the sign’s offensive nature, and he’s much more concerned about what it means for Woodbury’s reputation than his own.
“Every town has a politician that's worthless. Every town has signs saying that a politician is worthless. We politicians live with that. But the town, especially a town that’s as nice as this town, shouldn't be portrayed in that image,” said Buttlerly.
Because Murphy’s property is outside the Historic District, he does not need a permit. Butterly says there's nothing he or anyone else can do about it.
Murphy said the sign will stay up until he decides to take it down.