Friday, October 27, 2006

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

I know it’s not spring ‘cause the days are getting shorter. It’s also getting pretty cold at night, which feels more like fall than spring. But, everywhere I look I see these colorful rectangular growths jutting out of the ground. Most are blue, some are white, and even some are red. And they have things written on them—people’s names. In this part of Richmond, the blue ones either say George Allen for Senate, Jim Webb for Senate, or Jim Nachman for Congress. The white ones either say George Braxton for School Board or Jerry Miller for School Board. The only red ones say Eric Cantor for Congress. It’s election time in Richmond

For a while, all the signs were the same size, maybe 18 inches by 30 inches (I’m just guessing). Now I’m beginning to see all these mega-signs. They are at least four times the size of the other ones. The first mega-signs I saw bore the names of Republicans George Allen and Eric Cantor. Why would you think Republicans need all these super-size signs? Can it be that they are lacking in vision? Or maybe they feel a bit inadequate. Maybe they have a need to brag that “mine is bigger than yours.” Or just maybe they have too much money to spend between now and Election Day. Oh, now one of our school board candidates, Jerry Miller, is also using these mega-signs. School Board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan, but the super- size signs lead me to the conclusion that Miller must be a Republican too.

And what’s with Eric Cantor? The National Journal says he is the second most conservative of the entire Virginia congressional delegation (including senators). And his signs are RED! When I was a wee lad, nobody would think of using red. Red meant commie. Hey, at the height of the Cold War, the Cincinnati baseball club changed its name from Reds to Redlegs so nobody would doubt their patriotism. Isn’t it weird that we refer to conservative strongholds as Red States? Back in the day, the Red States were China, the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe.

I’m getting a bit tired of all these signs. They are everywhere—on people’s lawns, along the sides of roads, between sidewalks and the curb, on median strips. After a while they are just plain ugly. I guess if citizens wants to put up a sign on their own property they have a right to do so. But, what about public property? A part of that public property belongs to you and me. Should we be forced to have political signs on our part of the commons? I gotta check on this.

I’m going on line to my beloved internet and checking in the Charter of the City of Richmond. Hey, look here. Chapter 19 of the City Code deals with nuisances and Article II of that chapter deals with posting of signs. Section 19-22 is entitled “Posting of signs or advertising prohibited.” I must be getting close. Hey, it says that it is unlawful for anyone to post any sign, including a political sign, on public property. It also declares that any violation of the prohibition is a nuisance and that anybody is free to remove these nuisances from public property.

I don’t understand. If it is unlawful to post signs on public property, why are all these signs out there. Wait while I call a friend who might know. . . . Would you believe it, he says that Douglas Wilder, our beloved mayor, has instructed city employees not to enforce this ordinance before Election Day. I wonder—does the City Charter authorize the mayor to instruct city employees NOT to do their jobs? Aren’t we the citizens of Richmond entitled to a mayor who enforces the law rather than ignores it?

(Wasn’t it just yesterday that I said I had nothing much to say about His Mayorship?)

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