Letters: Political sign lawbreaking rampant - East Valley Tribune: Letters To The Editor

Letters: Political sign lawbreaking rampant

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Posted: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 4:00 am

Regarding Dan Zeiger’s article about election signs (Tribune, Dec. 3), the whole Valley doesn’t have to suffer the political sign mess. Most of the signs are illegal according to two Arizona State laws — ARS 9-500.14 regarding electioneering on city controlled property, and ARS 15-511 regarding electioneering on school district property, which carries a $500 per violation fine. Google them to see for yourself.

Political signs are almost always on city-controlled easement six feet back from public right a way. Signs on public right a way are also illegal. Many Valley cities not only violate these two laws, but have laws making it a crime to remove or deface candidates’ signs on easement. Thus, cities are signifying that they control the easement. So political signs are unambiguously illegal. Yet they continue to plague residents and make a mess for months out of our often beautifully landscaped streets.

While the easement is city controlled, it is also private property. In my opinion there is a First Amendment issue when a property owner is forced to display political endorsement signs he/she may oppose. Yet the property owner can’t remove them in Gilbert and other cities, without incurring a fine or worse.

I’ve contacted politicians, from my city council up to the State Attorney General, whose responsibility it is to enforce these two laws. They refuse to do so. They, of course, are also the offenders at election time. That’s a conflict of interest. They cite all sorts of irrelevant reasons, such as, “Politicians have freedom of speech too,” or, “The city allows all candidates to post signs, so doesn’t discriminate.”  The laws say NO SIGNS ON TAX-PAYER FUNDED PROPERTY and nothing about free speech or fairness.

Ron Burda, Gilbert

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