Friday, March 1, 2019

Theft, vandalizing and ‘switching out’ political yard signs IS A CRIME.

Remember: No one can put a political yard sign on your property without your permission. You can remove it any time; either throw it away or call the campaign and tell them to swing by and pick it up. No political campaign signage can be on public property and that includes a public right-of-way, e.g., a swale or any municipal property.

Moving on.

Let’s review what happened in 2017 and 2018.

Do you know what ‘switching out’ a campaign sign is? Find out a little later.

New residents of this City may be alarmed about the blog post below but there’s no reason to be. For many years it’s sort of like a tradition in Lake Worth politics for Anarchists and their Affinity members to send out teams on black bikes in the dark of night to steal and vandalize political yard signs.

It should be noted these nocturnal teams are completely harmless, except to themselves of course.

In 2017 massive numbers of campaign signs put out by the campaigns of Messrs. Herman C. Robinson and Omari Hardy were stolen or vandalized. And all the other signs that remained were clipped. In other words a wire cutter was used to snap one of the metal supports so the sign would shake, rattle and roll all day in the wind. And then a volunteer would have to go out and fix it. The metal stand costs more than the Cloroplast plastic sign does so one can see this tactic can be costly and wear down a targeted campaign.

Then things ramped up in 2018.

The Great ‘Switching Out’.

During the Midnight Sun Festival that year, on Friday and Saturday evening the unbelievable occurred. Each night campaign signs were switched out with another campaigns’ sign! All over town people would walk out the door the next morning, see a campaign sign in the front yard and start scratching their head, “Gee wiz, I thought I was supporting Mayor Pam Triolo?”

But ended up the Great Switching Out failed. The mayor went on to win in huge landslide.

Here is how you should look at this: It’s actually sort of a compliment to how well some candidates and campaigns are doing when their signs are getting vandalized, stolen, or switched out.

Important to remember:

Stealing, vandalizing and switching out political yard signs IS A CRIME. Someone trespassing on your property and stealing YOUR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH as well.

However, the ultimate question is, do yard signs work?

If yard signs weren’t effective why do you think some put so much time and effort stealing, vandalizing and switching them out? The answer is because political signs do workjust not in the way you might think they do. An article in Politico by Eliza Collins (see excerpt below) is a very interesting read and explains why campaign signs are effective.

But first, besides being a crime, stealing signs in the dark of night is someone who is infringing on
your right of Free Speech:

These two were spotted stealing political signs around the Lucerne building in Downtown Lake Worth in March 2015.

If your sign gets stolen or vandalized:

Call the PBSO non-emergency number and report it: 561-688-3400. Whoever stole your political sign trespassed on your property and is disrespecting your right to Free Speech. Contact the campaign you are supporting and request another sign.

Other tactics, mind you, are using bolt cutters to cut one of the metal supports to make the sign dangle awkwardly. That also forces the targeted campaign to order more stakes. The stake, by the way, costs more than the sign. And curiously, it seems the ones who always say “listen to the people”, e.g., such as the small and ever-dwindling cabal of Anarchists here in the City of Lake Worth, were the ones always out stealing other “people’s” right to Free Speech? Ironic, isn’t it?

Anyhow, back to the article in Politico: the value in yard signs isn’t to increase an election turnout, their value is getting your name and message to those who will likely be voting on election day. The effect of political signs is small but nonetheless very effective. Here is the excerpt from Politico:

     “We were surprised by these findings, because the conventional wisdom is that lawn signs don’t do much — they’re supposed to be a waste of money and time. Many campaign consultants think that signs preach to the choir’ and not much else,” Coppock [Alex Coppock, co-author of the study cited in Politico] said.
     “The effect is small in terms of percentage points, though the implication is that thousands of voters would have voted for someone else if not for the signs, [emphasis added] Coppock said. “My guess is that part of the reason that the effect is small is because any campaign tactic — signs, ads, mailers, calls, etc — only move people around at the margin. In many ways, it would be strange if the effect were bigger. Imagine a world in which the presence or absence of lawn signs could swing an election by 10 points.

And lastly, almost every year here in the City of Lake Worth comes the call from some quarters to have candidates and campaigns stop using political yard signs. Listen closely the next time you hear that lament and then ask yourself this question: “Why would anyone want to quell completely legal Free Speech in the City of Lake Worth?”

And consider this: All that effort to ban plastic straws and balloons in this City! Plastic straws and balloons can be recycled. Chloroplast cannot and they end up taking a lot of space in landfills. Think about that for a while.