Four Winds Motel recall sign

The owner of the 4 Winds Motel on Highway BD north of Baraboo have drawn the ire of some motorists who believe the message on their sign is offensive.

Todd Krysiak / News Republic

Some passersby are not pleased with a Baraboo motel co-owner's quip about the ongoing attempt to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The quip - highly political at best, borderline obscene at worst - is on display on the marquee in front of the motel on county Highway BD north of Baraboo.

The message, spelled out in plastic block lettering on the motel's roadside marquee: "RECALL THE KOCH SUCKER NOW!"

"This is ridiculous," said Bill Weitzel of Baraboo, who drove by the motel on Monday morning.

The marquee's language refers to billionaire businessman David Koch, whom a blogger impersonated during an infamous February prank telephone call to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

It was during that conversation - which Walker believed was private - that the governor said he "thought about" planting troublemakers among protestors upset about his bill to curtail collective bargaining for most public employees.

"There have been some vocal critics (of the sign), but also, there has been overwhelming support," said Marcie Dachik, co-owner of the Four Winds Motel.

She said it's her First Amendment right to display the sign, which she said is intended to catch the eye and inspire discussion.

Critics, such as Weitzel, say the sign's obvious pornographic reference is lewd.

"I don't know how anyone in a business - regardless of what they think or who they're in opposition to - could put something like this on their sign," Weitzel said.

But Dachik said the anti-Walker slogan hasn't hurt business. In fact, she said, it has helped.

"By and large, people have said, ‘If I ever have a reason to, I will go out of my way to stay here' because of the sign," Dachik said.

Others say the motel should voluntarily remove the display, regardless of whether its owners have a legal right to display it.

"You know, people with kids are driving by. And you know there are little kids who are 8, 9, 10 years old who are old enough to be able to read that and might say, ‘Mommy, what does that mean?'" said Andrea Lombard, a Sauk County supervisor and first vice chairwoman of the Republican Party of Sauk County. "Well, how does Mommy explain that? I'm not sure."

Rachel Stieve of Baraboo, who said she supports Walker's actions, said a child in her vehicle asked her about the sign as they drove by it on the way to school one morning.

Stieve wrote a letter to the editor of the News Republic that was critical of the motel. The letter generated more than 40 comments on the newspaper's website.

Dachik said this isn't the first controversial display that has adorned the motel's marquee. Others have involved gay rights and a statewide referendum on gay marriage.

"It's not like I didn't know it would be controversial when I put it up," Dachik said.