Entry 139: Signs of the Times

As the presidential election approaches, I’m gearing up for a massive dose of what’s wrong with politics in America.

It’s not the lobbyists. It’s not the partisan bickering. It’s not the media, or the Tea Party, or campaign financing.  It’s not even the out-sourcing of the White House dogship to Portugal.*

It’s yard signs.

You know what a yard sign is, right?  They’re also called lawn signs or site signs, and they seem to be much more prevalent here in Stamford than they were in Westchester. It’s probably because New York has figured out a way to put some sort of tax on them.

Why people would replace their flamingoes and jockeys with these miniature billboards is beyond me. Are they simply proclaiming their allegiance? Are they trying to convert passers-by? Are they getting paid for turning their front yards into advertising space?

When we first started house hunting in Stamford, it was in October of 2010, and it was almost impossible to find the “HOUSE FOR SALE” yard signs in amongst all the political yards signs.

Even in 2011, the landscape was covered with them, and that was an off-year election, with only positions like judge and Road Lane Painter up for grabs. The yard signs didn’t even say what office the candidate was running for.  Just “VOTE FOR [NAME].”  I can only conclude that local elections are won by whoever puts out the most yard signs.

I also think it would be hysterical if somebody with lots of time on his or her hands got hundreds of signs printed up telling people to vote for him or her even though he or she wasn’t actually running for anything. Imagine the confusion at polling places:

  • VOTER: I was going to vote for So-and-So.  But I don’t see his or her name on the ballot.
  • 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON: What?
  • VOTER (LOUDER): I don’t see So-and-So’s name on the ballot.
  • 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON: Who is So-and-So?
  • VOTER: I don’t know.
  • 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON TO OTHER 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON: This citizen would like to vote for So-and-So but cannot find that name on the ballot.
  • 2ND 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON: What?
  • 1ST 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON (TO VOTER): Well, what is So-and-So running for?
  • VOTER: I don’t know.
  • 1ST 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON: So why do you want to vote for So-and-So?
  • VOTER: The yard signs told me to.
  • 2ND 85-YEAR-OLD POLLING PLACE PERSON: What?

But, okay, I can forgive a few weeks of uglification as part of the democratic process.  But even when there are no campaigns going on, Stamford is inundated with yard signs.  “GET FIT!” they shout at me. “GET RID OF MUFFIN TOPS!” “MAKE $$$ AT HOME!” “BUY A MATTRESS TO SUPPORT THE HIGH SCHOOL!” (This, by the way, is something else we didn’t see in Westchester: charity mattress sales.  I have the feeling that there’s something “off” about the whole concept, although I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.  Maybe it’s because it’s so close to saying, “Support your local high school: sleep with the students.”)

There are signs for local musical theater productions, for people who want to buy my gold, for sports leagues (“FLAG FOOTBALL!” “YOUTH LACROSSE!” “OVER 50 SHUFFLEBOARD!”), for store sales (“PATIO FURNITURE SALE,” TEAK FURNITURE CLEARANCE,” “SECOND-HAND CHILDREN’S CLOTHING”), and right now, for fireworks.  And, as I said, these atrocious signs are all over town.  There don’t appear to be any regulations.  Can they be erected any old place? Do you need a permit? Are there size limitations? Can they at least be required to be legible so drivers don’t get into accidents trying to read the friggin’ ads?

They really do annoy me, and I’m considering starting a campaign to get rid of them. The best way to begin, I think, would be to put up a yard sign on my front lawn saying: “LET’S OUTLAW YARD SIGNS IN STAMFORD!”

I’ve even found a place online that will make yard signs for $1.50 each (one color, one side).

The problem is, there’s a 100-sign minimum order, so I guess I’ll have to put them up all over town.

See you soon.

*A reference to the Obama’s Portuguese Water Dog.

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2 Responses to Entry 139: Signs of the Times

  1. miriam says:

    Just so you know, you are completely allowed to remove ANY signs on public property, anywhere in Stamford. It is considered littering to put signs on the public right-of-way. Campaign signs and other commercial signs are only legally allowed to be placed on private property. And no signs are legally allowed to be attached to utility or sign poles, ever. So, have at it, take down whatever signs you can, and keep Stamford beautiful!

  2. Vinny Bond says:

    There you go…time to start ripping down those signs…!

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