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The Nose

Sign Reprise

Posted 10/30/2002

After a flurry of protest over illegally placed campaign signs well in advance of the primary elections (Ballot Stuffing, June 6), Communities for Clean Campaigns--the group that makes a cause of political-sign correctness--has been quiet for many months now. "Haven't seen much" in the way of illegal postings, says the group's top dog, Dave Desmarais. "At least not lately."The Nose has. Vacant buildings from Penn-North to Hollins Market have been sporting Question P signs, the ballot initiative that seeks to downsize the City Council into 14 single-member districts. The orange-and-black signs can be seen affixed right next to Globe Printers' promotional signs for the next Bobby Womack concert and old signs touting the failed candidacy of City Councilwoman Lisa Stancil for state's attorney. And on Belvedere Avenue near Pimlico Race Track, Question P lawn signs have been planted on public-median strips--also illegal.

"I've seen a couple of those, but nothing epidemic," says Desmarais. But then he admits, "Maybe I haven't been in areas where there are many vacant houses. It looks like I've been sleeping on the job."

That's alright, Dave. The Nose called Rose Taylor, co-chairwoman of the board of the Maryland office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which has been an active part of the coalition supporting the Question P initiative. She explains that "with so many groups under one coalition supporting the initiative, we do have overzealous volunteers." And with so many vacant buildings in the city that have illegally posted signs already on them, such workers may think it's OK to glue up another one--especially since they're supporting a reform movement that, Taylor asserts, will help address city problems like the plethora of vacant houses.

Desmarais, who says he supports Question P, is forgiving of the sign sins of the initiative's political backers. He says he may call ACORN about the signs, but he's not on his high horse calling for tough enforcement of the sign laws this time. "It's an urban-warfare kind of thing," Desmarais asserts. "They just go out and put the signs up because that's how you get the word out."

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