Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Signs of the Times
"...And the sign says anybody caught trespassin' wil be shot on sight..."
Campaign season is here again. How do we know this? Well, aside from the almost daily fodder of mail from the candidates (or at least one of them), there are those huge, ugly, and, for the most part, patently unlawful signs that mar the landscape of what was once suburbia.
You know. VOTE FOR (fill in your favorite candidate); RETURN (with or without deposit); RE-ELECT (me, because my signs are bigger than the other guy's).
Aside from the eye pollution, and, in some instances, the danger to pedestrians and motorists alike - signs blocking the line of sight along roadways and at intersections and distracting the already limited attention of drivers - many if not most of these political banners and placards are illegal. Yes, ILLEGAL - in blatant violation of TOWN Oridinance that prohibits the posting of signs (even on private property) without permit. [There they go. Every official at Town Hall standing for election running down to the Board of Zoning Appeals to file an application for a permit to "maintain a sign..."]
We all know, of course, that - at least in the Town of Hempstead - Ordinances are enforced more in the breach than in practice. Could you imagine one of the eight Town Inspectors roaming the Turnpike removing illegal campaign signage? [Wait. There goes one Inspector now. Look at him dutifully remove, rip up, and shred that Re-Elect Dorothy Goosby sign. What a trooper!]
No, every year we complain about the illegal proliferation of these signs - posted on building walls, hung as banners from the facades (part of the Town's Facade Improvement Program, no doubt), stapled to utility poles next to the STUFF ENVELOPES poster, slightly to the left of the CARS WANTED sticker, and as free-standing monstrosities, some as large as billboards - and with each passing election there are more of them. [Mostly the same names, of course, but who's looking anyway?]
To be fair, both major parties bear blame here - yet it is abundantly clear who has the advantage, both strategically in position and by sheer numbers. On an unofficial count along a stretch of Hempstead Turnpike, for instance, signs for Republican candidates outnumbered those touting their Democratic rivals by a margin of 6 to 1. [And if you throw in every time the name KATE MURRAY, SUPERVISOR appears, you can run that up to about 20 to 1.]
Sure, the candidates have to get their names out in public view. Some, obviously, don't care where or how. We saw an elect WRIGHT, DISTRICT COURT JUDGE lawn sign embedded amongst the weeds and trash in front of an abandoned storefront. Now there's poetic justice for you! [By the way, is this the same Gerald Wright who now sits as Chair of the Town's Zoning Board of Appeals? Nice job, Jerry. You are planted in what you reap!]
Reports are also coming in, from several quarters, that lawn signs for one Town of Hempstead Supervisor (could that be, Kate Murray, perhaps?) are prominently displayed in front of single family homes known in their respective neigborhoods to harbor illegal accessory apartments. [See, and you thought the Town of Hempstead wasn't doing enough to seek out the illegal apartments. Kate found 'em, and is courting the votes of both landlord and tenant!]
Some of these signs are downright funny. One for - who else - Kate Murray on Long Beach Road proclaims RESPECTED ON WALL STREET ~ TRUSTED ON MAIN STREET. Sure, the Town is respected on Wall Street. With taxpayers asked to feed the Town meter year after year (a 12.8% increase in 2005), purported surpluses notwithstanding, who wouldn't be happy to lend the Town money. Add on that debt, fellas. We'll simply tax 'em more next year to pay off the interest!
As for TRUSTED ON MAIN STREET, well, Kate, you could break your arm patting yourself on the back for finally closing the Oceanside Motel after all these years (watch for the wrecking ball - with a caricature of Kate Murray on it - to come crashing down shortly before Election Day), but let's face it, most of the "Main Streets" in the Town of Hempstead - particularly in the stepchild unincorporated areas - look like crap!
But we digress. The problem here is too many signs. Unsightly signs. Illegal signs. Blocking out the scenery - or simply obscuring other signs. To the candidates, apparently, it is the more the merrier; bigger is better. To us, the beleaguered residents, it is just another sign of disrespect.
So, what is it we, the people, can do about all of these signs? First off, if you see one posted on a utility pole or other public property, take it down. Next, complain about the signs - to the candidates, their respective parties, and in Letters to the Editor of your local papers. And then, do what we've been urging residents to do every Election Day - VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATES WITH THE FEWEST SIGNS!