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Monday, April 27, 2009

Government Training to Spot Illegally-Posted Signs?

“Volunteers Wanted: Receive government training to learn how to spot illegally-posted signs in public rights-of-way, and have the authority to remove them. For information, contact the county government.”

In the greater D.C. metro area, such a posting may eventually be seen, though it is still months in the future. County Board members, on April 25, took another step in considering establishment of a corps of volunteers to remove signs in medians and in other public areas that have been posted improperly. However, before this idea can actually be implemented, there are a few things that need to be determined. Among them are:

* Is it actually a crime to remove an illegally-placed signs, and, if so, can the county change the law or does the state have to act?

* Can the local government permit the removal of signs on roads that are owned by the state government, a roster that includes many key thoroughfares in Arlington?

* If someone removes a sign that has been placed legally in a public area, or on private property, would they (or the county government) face a possible civil lawsuit for infringement of free speech?

County Board member Chris Zimmerman said the process should start by having the county government do a better job of pursuing those who post signs illegally, “if only to send them a nasty letter.” Then, the county government needs to figure out if it’s a criminal offense to remove a sign, and if so, whether it can be decriminalized, Zimmerman said.

The issue came to the forefront earlier this year, after a local resident was chastised by a judge after he continued to remove signs he claimed were posted illegally on public property (to read more on that story - and I recommend it- click here) and was charged with petty larceny, the "taking of the property of another without their permission." Since then, a small group has pushed board members to give local residents the ability to take down signs in county-owned rights-of-way. Currently, only county employees, and those who post the signs, have that right.

Chesterfield County (in Virginia) instituted a volunteer program to remove illegal signs from roads and rights of way within the county in June 2007. Since roads in Chesterfield County are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the county had to obtain permission from VDOT to police and remove the illegal signs. Once that agreement was executed, the county quickly created a program through which county residents can volunteer to assist in the cleanup efforts. Safety training is required for all volunteers and they made sure to note that citizens should not remove illegal signs except through this county sponsored program.

In closing, County Board members in the Greater D.C. metro area have some homework to do... but if actions in Chesterfield County, Virgina are any indication of what can be expected, residents will soon have the power to "legally" remove illegal signs from roads and rights of way.

As I see it, where one can do it... others will soon follow.


Information for this article was found here: Sun Gazette Chesterfield Connections The Washington Post

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tea Party Signs

Hello my fellow readers and bloggers. I do not generally delve into politics as I really don't have anything nice to say. However, as many of you know, there were 'Tea Parties' staged all over the nation last week and I have been wandering the net to see what most people were protesting.

As in the original Boston Tea Party, it appears that many of the protesters had a few things to say about the state of our financial crisis and the resulting tax increases... as well as the "loans" or bailouts that are meant to save some companies from bankruptcy. There are many who theorize that this event will lead to a growing spiral that might (just might) make congress open their eyes and really look at what the constitution has to say about our rights... and the fact that, right now, some of those rights are being casually stepped on. Then, of course, you have those who believe this 'Tea Party' was nothing more than an anti Obama rally and resulting anger will quickly dissipate and be a thing of the past. No matter which direction you see it from, the truth is that this money is coming out of our pockets. And while I can understand coming together to "bail out" the great U.S. of A, it wasn't the American public that buried us all in debt. Simply my opinion and I'll leave it there.

Getting back to the staged 'Tea Parties'-

As I wandered the wonderful world of internet pages and news, I saw many pictures and articles pertaining to events in different states and the resulting protest signs. Some were, quite frankly, lewd, while others... well... those I'll allow to speak for themselves...

Ahhhhh.... freedom of speech and from the mouths of babes! As much as I enjoyed the numerous signs floating around on the net for this mass protest, I have to say that these were ultimately my favorite. They protest the points simply, through innocent faces, and have more of an impact than all of the lewd signs I have run across. In my humble opinion, the first little girl and her sign make the loudest statement :-)


Images taken from the Huffington Post

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And The Verdict Is.....

Last October, John Toplikar, a former member of the Olathe City Council and former member of the Kansas House of Representatives, became infamous when Hayden's supporters videotaped the incumbent removing some of Hayden's campaign signs in broad daylight just 10 days before the election. The supporters put the video on YouTube. The incident then gained local and national attention. He was quoted as saying, "Now voters will have to decide whether political signs and the games people play with those signs are more important than the issues." Toplikar, who was cruising to re-election, suddenly lost the support of many voters. The YouTube-broadcast incident called into question Toplikar's integrity and less than two weeks later, Toplikar lost his re-election bid by 42 votes.

On April 14, 2009, former Johnson County Commissioner John Toplikar accepted an agreement from the Olathe city prosecutor and will receive diversion for stealing his opponent's campaign signs in October. Toplikar will serve 12 months probation, and at the end of that time, if he stays out of trouble, the prosecutor will dismiss the misdemeanor theft charge. The diversion agreement was made final Friday, according to court records, after his Olathe Municipal Court hearing was delayed five times while both sides came to an agreement.

So, it appears that sign stealing is now worth a slap on the wrist for politicians! Which, when weighed against , say, a college professor, who only last year faced 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000.00 for stealing 8 McCain/Palin yard signs (though admitted only 3 to police), seems like a mockery. Why, you ask, does this 1 year probation sound like a mockery? Diversion is not probation. You don't actually report to anyone. As long as you don't get into trouble during the 12 month period, the charge disappears. In effect, a mockery.

It would seem to me that those who are in the public eye, in such high standing, would be those from whom higher standards would be expected. The fact that he lost the election must have been crushing... the fact that politicians can steal signs without any real punishment, must have been enlightening. I have to wonder what type of signal this sends to other political hopefuls with sign stealing intentions.


Information for this article was found at:
Northfield News

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