Ah, Spring. The natural blooms are beautiful. But not the political "yard" signs that are blossoming all around Salem in the public right of way -- where they're prohibited by City ordinance 900.100:
900.100. Signs Installed Over or Within the Right-of-Way. No sign shall be erected over or within the public right-of-way unless the placement of the sign is first approved by the governmental unit having jurisdiction over the right-of-way. (Ord No. 4-12) [note: to my knowledge, approvals never are asked for, nor given]
Jim Scheppke put up a Facebook post about this a few days ago, complete with incriminating photos.
There's a reason they call them "yard signs." They are supposed to go in yards. Citizens who support a given candidate can show that support to their neighbors by agreeing to have a sign placed in their yard (like Sally Cook's signs below). Unfortunately this time of year there are candidates for local office who must not have many supporters, so they have to resort in planting their signs illegally in the public right of way. Yes, it is illegal. It violates Salem Revised Code 900.100. Can you believe it? We have politicians running for City positions who are willfully violating the City code to get elected. Do like me and never vote for a candidate who breaks the law.
I found this Sally Cook sign photo on her Facebook page. It's clearer than the one Scheppke shared. Yes, this is a political sign in a yard. So it truly is a Yard Sign.
For some reason City Councilor Chuck Bennett (who is running for Mayor against Carole Smith), and City Councilor Warren Bednarz (who is running for re-election against Sally Cook) don't understand the City sign ordinance very well.
Or they do, and they choose to ignore it.
Check out a Salem Community Vision piece, "End the blight of temporary signs in the public right-of-way."
By and large, the public right of way includes the space between a sidewalk and a street, along with the space between utility poles and a street. "Public" means it is for the use of everybody, not a favored few.
These brazen Warren Bednarz signs absolutely scream I'm illegal.
Unable to pound one of his signs right into the sidewalk -- which I'm sure Bednarz would prefer -- a sign was placed in a tree cutout. (The tree leans to the right, just like Bednarz, so at least they're compatible in that regard.)
The other sign sure isn't in any sort of private yard either. Unless the Bednarz campaign got permission from gophers who live there to put a sign on their rodent property.
Opinions differ on what citizens can do when they come across an illegal sign in the public right of way.
Pulling the sign out and laying it flat on the ground is almost certainly fine. In fact, I encourage this, having done it myself on several occasions.
Since the signs are akin to littering in a public place, it can be argued that disposing of an illegal sign is the right thing to do. But I've heard that City staff advise the "pull and lay flat" approach.
It is City Council campaign season once again in our neighborhood, and the signs for candidates are sprouting like dandelions. Neighbors about whom one usually knows only what their glass recycling bin reveals suddenly share their political and social views with comparative abandon. Amongst a pretty tight-lipped lot, it is a period of unusual openness.
But, what do these signs really tell us?
I think political signs often send unintended messages, and it is those messages I most enjoy. Whether there is any factual basis to the insights below is utterly irrelevant: indeed, in this utterly irrelevant post I rather hope my comments have nothing to do at all with what was intended. Instead, I am trying to draw out deep-seated archetypes from the land of Ur that no-one wanted or thought of. That way, I can get some enjoyment out of all this politicking, as well.
So, here goes some symbolic sleuthing, with tongue placed firmly in cheek.