Yard Signs and Vengance!
April 12, 2005 6:09 PM   Subscribe

What should I do when a local political campaign invades my front yard without my permission?

I came home last week to find a sign for a mayoral candidate in my front yard without my permission. This is something that has happened to several of my neighbors, too. I decided to express my displeasure using their sign instead of just yanking it out of the ground and throwing it away. Today I came home from work to find the whole thing gone.

I think this kind of behavior is disrespectful and reflects poorly on the candidate himself. It was bad enough for them to use my yard as a campaign space and it is even worse to take my sign from my yard even if it does have added commentary. The signs probably do make me seem like a crazy old lady, but they're MY signs! (Seriously, I can't believe how mad I am about this for someone who didn't care all that much about the election last week.)

I would like to send the message that this is not okay and should not be repeated. Should I ask for an apology? Should I demand that I get my sign back, even if it would defeat the purpose of my little protest? Would letters to the editor do any good? Am I overreacting?
posted by Alison to Human Relations (30 answers total)
The smaller sign says "one does not put signs in yards without permission". I know it sounds a lot like "you kids get off my lawn", but I should get bonus points for not using profanity.
posted by Alison at 6:11 PM on April 12, 2005

Be careful.
Could the opposition have done this?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:12 PM on April 12, 2005

The opposition actually came over and asked to put their sign in my yard. I refused, but they at least asked. They seem a little bit more polite.
posted by Alison at 6:18 PM on April 12, 2005

Oh, I think you could have fun with it. I think you should email that picture to the newspaper with a letter, and say exactly how it got there and how it disappeared. Be funny, brief, and point out that it reflects badly on him.

Speaking of which, who won? It probably would've been more appropriate to do something BEFORE the election.
posted by SpecialK at 6:27 PM on April 12, 2005

We won't be voting until in the primary until May. I changed my voter registration from independent just so I could vote in my yellow dog democrat city.
posted by Alison at 6:37 PM on April 12, 2005

It's against campaign rules to put signs in your lawn without permission, certainly? However, a lot of times this sort of thing, in our neighborhood anyhow, is done by kids and not the candidate. I'd call the campaign office and express your disapproval. Actually I would have done that before the extra signage, but that's just me. A letter to the editor is probably the best revenge if you want that, BUT if the candidate or his/her minions did not do this, then you do look like the "you kids get off my lawn" lady. Also, since you don't really know who did either the sign-leaving or the sign withdrawal, IMHO, you are overreacting perhaps a little.
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 PM on April 12, 2005

Call the police and tell them you'd like them to cite the campaign for littering.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 7:03 PM on April 12, 2005

I'm pretty sure that the campaign is doing the sign leaving. There are far too many that appeared all at once for it to be a bunch of kids.
posted by Alison at 7:04 PM on April 12, 2005

Kids often volunteer for political campaigns and are the ones putting signs up... be nice to them. If you don't want it in your yard... take it down and throw it away. Big deal. They are out the cost of the metal frame and the sign, so let that be your revenge if you so wish.
posted by banished at 7:10 PM on April 12, 2005

Write a check for $100 to another candidate.

Or at least tell O'Connor you did, and why.

Or if you really wanted, I suppose you could go to one or more of his campaign events and shout "WHERE'S MY SIGN, O'CONNOR? I WANT MY SIGN BACK!" until he gets sick and tired of you, but then you'll definitely seem a Deranged Crank (level 1).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:38 PM on April 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

Meh. I paid for several Kerry signs in October and November and had every last one of them stolen from my front yard. Including the few that were there after the election. I planned on taking them down that weekend and saving them, but they disappeared Wednesday morning.

posted by Doohickie at 7:52 PM on April 12, 2005

I would have to admit that I'm less mad about the sign disappearing (although that was the last straw), then I am about the sign appearing in the first place. It's more about someone misrepresenting my views and my neighbor's views. Even if it is a bunch of minions putting up signs, it's poor campaign etiquette to do so without asking even when people are home. I think I made my views clear. If they don't feel the need to talk to me, then I feel no need to call them when they put something in my yard.

I will admit that I don't know who took my sign, but one has to climb a steep flight of stairs just to get to my front yard which is high above eye-level and street traffic. Whoever took the sign must have really wanted it.

Anyway, I'm seeing some good suggestions. Anything is appreciated.
posted by Alison at 8:06 PM on April 12, 2005

ROU, that totally cracks me up.
posted by graventy at 8:30 PM on April 12, 2005

Alison, I don't know how long you've lived here, but this is an historic, A-Number 1, Prime Bob O'Connor electoral tactic. I don't think that the man has ever run for any office without having his minions pulling this sort of stunt. Planting signs where they have no business planting them, planting and taking them without permission/notice, it's just par for the course.

You could call his campaign office, but if you do, don't be surprised one little bit if you're blown off. They couldn't care less. So long as there's no actual, useable proof that they're doing anything unsavory, they'll continue with business as usual because it's always worked for them in the past. (And forget about bitching to the P-G as their endorsement is as good as written.)
posted by Dreama at 8:44 PM on April 12, 2005

SpecialK has it right - call the local paper or TV station and tell them what happened in an amused, non-crazy-old-lady way. If they bite and run a story, it'll embarass the bastards like nothing else.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:56 PM on April 12, 2005

Is there anyone here who always has signs illicitly inserted or removed from their yard, predictably, every election year?

One imagines it'd be interesting to collate a "candid camera" style video feed. I can imagine building the hardware.
posted by effugas at 8:58 PM on April 12, 2005

Take it to the local paper, take it to the local TV news, and post it on some well-read blog.

It's a decent human-interest story. It's even better if your phone calls to the mayor's campaign have be rebuffed or gone unanswered. ;)

Just tell the reporter what you wrote here:
I would have to admit that I'm less mad about the sign disappearing (although that was the last straw), then I am about the sign appearing in the first place. It's more about someone misrepresenting my views and my neighbor's views. Even if it is a bunch of minions putting up signs, it's poor campaign etiquette to do so without asking even when people are home. I think I made my views clear. If they don't feel the need to talk to me, then I feel no need to call them when they put something in my yard.
posted by orthogonality at 9:45 PM on April 12, 2005

I would imagine this O'Connor person is the incumbent. I won't hazard a guess about his party because, at the local level, politicians are equally corrupt.

The only solution I've ever heard of is to sit on your porch with a shotgun and scare the crap out of the next chump who comes to plant a sign. Of course you've probably got better things to do.

But you describe your property as being out of sight. If that's the case, how did anyone know to come remove the adultered sign? I'm so glad its you and not me, I'd blow a few blood vessels.
posted by Goofyy at 10:03 PM on April 12, 2005

O'Connor is not the incumbent, but he is the one candidate supported by the local "Democratic machine".

My yard is visible from the street, but one has to look up to see the sign.

I was thinking about the whole shotgun on the porch thing and it cracks me up; sadly, I have a job.
posted by Alison at 10:12 PM on April 12, 2005

Perhaps put up a bigger sign that says pretty much what your last ones said - the absense of the their sign makes little difference. Or go further and put a loud alarm on it so anyone trespassing without permission to take it down is likely to get caught. Once you have a license plate number, you could offer them the choice between a public apology to you and others like you, in the local paper, or having a police complaint / trespass charges filed.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:52 PM on April 12, 2005

oops, make that theft, not trespass.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:55 PM on April 12, 2005

Contact the opponent's campaign headquarters. They can put you in touch with someone in the local media who may be interested in covering your story.
posted by cribcage at 5:37 AM on April 13, 2005

First, it could have been a mistake.

Second, it could be the opponent messing around -- or the oppnent's staff.

Third, the campaign may have identified you as a supporter, either through direct contact, or your past voting history and took a chance.

The press isn't going to run with it -- unless it is a whole neighborhood that got signs without asking and they all want to say that. Why? Because you can't prove who put it there, and everyone will just deny it happened.

If it were me, the first step would've been to call the campaign. My next response would be entirely contingent upon their response.
posted by szg8 at 9:21 AM on April 13, 2005

"Here's a free sign that I'm putting in your yard without your permission."

"Dude, you don't have permission for that. You don't know if I wanted to support that guy."

"Whoops. Lemme take that sign away then."

"What are you doing? That's my sign."

I vote for overreacting. I mean, it's rude to make people take stuff that they don't want, but you could have just thrown it away, and that would have been the end of it.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2005

Thanks for all of your suggestions. It looks like I'll be getting a letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Someone contacted me this morning to find out what neighborhood I live in. I decided to not to mention my "improvements" to the sign because it is more about misrepresenting my views than anything else. Here is a copy of the letter I sent:

An open letter to Mr. Bob O'Connor –

I’m writing, sir, because I don’t like the way you treat homeowners in this city. I came home last Saturday to find one of your big blue signs in my yard. No one had even asked if I supported you, much less wanted to declare it on my front stoop. I am not the only homeowner who has walked outside to see to their surprise a loud proclamation of your candidacy on their front lawn. People have found signs in their front yard after sitting home all day without a knock at their door. You see, I knew nothing about the mayoral race in Pittsburgh until that sign landed in my front yard and covered up my tulips. Until yesterday I was a registered independent. However, somehow your act of disrespect to the people of Pittsburgh has prompted me to change my registration so that I will have a say in this race. I am certainly not pleased with a candidate who has chosen to use my front yard as his
own personal campaign space without my permission. Sir, I ask for an apology for myself and for everyone whose personal property has been appropriated for your personal use.
posted by Alison at 11:23 AM on April 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Doohickie: I planned on taking them down that weekend and saving them, but they disappeared Wednesday morning.

Someplaces I've lived have had regulations requiring all campaign signs on public property to be removed in a short period of time after the election, like 48hrs short. The campaign staff's final duties include driving around and removing these signs. When in doubt whether the property is private or public it's better for them to assume public. This may be what happened to you if your area has similiar regulations.
posted by Mitheral at 11:59 AM on April 13, 2005

Good job Alison. Nice letter.

Way to get involved.

A sign appears in your yard. Rather than call the campaign to complain, you take matters into your own hands.

Why stop at a letter? Why not sue the campaign for trespassing?
posted by szg8 at 12:15 PM on April 13, 2005

posted by airguitar at 12:59 PM on April 13, 2005

Szg9 - I think my sarcasm detector is broken from too much Metafilter.

If you are being sarcastic, Dreama made it pretty clear that calling the campaign would probably not do much good and it would not stop them from doing it to someone else. I think a letter is a pretty appropriate response when something like this happens on a multi-neighborhood scale.
posted by Alison at 1:36 PM on April 13, 2005

Put up another, much bigger sign that calls O'Connor a shiftless jerk. Make it cheap, and make copies, so you can keep putting them up as they get stolen. Then, think about setting up a video camera. The local TV stations will simply *adore* footage of some local creep trespassing and violating fellow citizens' 1st Amendment rights. They don't give a crap about politics so long as they get good visual.
posted by mediareport at 9:11 PM on April 13, 2005

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