In the season of campaign sign rustlers

June 2, 2014

EXCLUSIVE By KAREN VELIE

You know it really is election season when signs appear and disappear throughout San Luis Obispo County as candidates battle for exposure. And every year candidate signs worth thousands of dollars are stolen.

Even so, this year’s battle for District 4 supervisor is unusually cantankerous with signs illegally placed, signs stolen and sign thieves caught or photographed. In addition, the county public works department has sent multiple letters to the candidates asking them to remove signs from neutral public roadways.

Candidate Caren Ray, a sitting supervisor, has dozens of campaign signs placed on county and state property in violation of the law. Ray is running for election against Nipomo businesswoman Lynn Compton and Arroyo Grande real estate broker Mike Byrd.

Typically, candidates get permission from supporters to place signs on private property. Campaign signs are not permitted on publicly owned lands such as parks or public right of ways like highway on-ramps.

On Friday, after each candidate had received three warnings to remove any illegal signs, a county public works employee removed dozens of signs placed in public right of ways and hauled them to the corporate yard, said a representative of County Public Works.

Mike Renner watched from his seat in the Cowgirl Café as a county employee removed a Ray sign from the public right of way next to the restaurant. He left the restaurant and noticed a car driven, by Ed Eby which stopped in three places shortly after the county employee removed a Ray sign. In each case, Eby replaced the missing sign with a new Ray sign.

When contacted by CCN, Eby said he did not see the county employee remove the signs, though he noticed they were gone and replaced them. Eby contends that some county staffers are unaware of what constitutes a public right of way.

“Public works people took signs off my property Friday morning,” Eby said. “I don’t think all of the public works people have a clear understanding of where the legal right of way is.”

At the county yard sets a large stack of Ray signs.

campaign signs

Nevertheless, Eby claims that Compton has placed as many signs in the public right of way as Ray. However, a reporter drove through the area and notice several Compton signs that violated the county’s restrictions on campaign sign sizes, but not one in the public right of way.

All three candidates have had multiple signs stolen and both the Ray and Compton team have taken information of the thefts to law enforcement. Of the 50 large signs Byrd placed throughout the district, his campaign reports that all but five have been stolen.

The election is Tuesday. Polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Candidates have 14 days following the election to remove their signs.


30 Comments

  1. fishing village says:

    Oh for heaven’s sakes, every candidate neeeeds to know about where signs can be placed. In MB signs were disappearing for Carla and Nancy, so they got some really big ones 6 ft x 8ft. or whatever, and placed them around!! Too big, but that’s just my opinion. Other candidates had signs removed by the opposition in a most childish way. It’s an old story.
    Only place them where they belong and keep your mitts off of other people’s signs!! It is that simple!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Niles Q says:

    If there is a run off, my advice is to have people post the signs inside the window of their home or business, then stealing one would be burglary and a possible felony.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  3. achillesheal says:

    Reminds me of Reese Witherspoon’s character Tracey Flick in the movie Election when she tore down her opponents campaign posters in a fit of rage. Of course it was a High School election, she was 17, and it was fiction.

    Good luck with your election children. None of you are worthy of a vote so I, and judging from elected politicians throughout America, most other intelligent people, will be sitting this one out.

    See you at the polls when there is a person of integrity to vote for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 23

  4. Pelican1 says:

    SNAFU: See SLO county politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  5. MajorityFan says:

    Here in Morro Bay it is much simpler. Kathleen Welles posted on Carla’s Facebook page about all the opposition signs she and her husband Billy stole. And then was stupid enough to say she was talking about two years ago about political signs that were still up. Carla remained silent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

    • kwelles says:

      Majority Fan……Removing signs from private property that Irons minions posted without permission does not constitute theft. Your post is laughable to say the least. Iron’s minions even filed a bogus police report in hopes of stirring up some controversy during this election season. The Morro Bay police department investigated your epic proportion of a fairy tale, and came to the conclusion that removing signs posted illegally on private property does not constitute theft. I like how you posted that the signs were still up as to insinuate they have been there from 2 years ago. LOL!!!

      In all fairness to you, were you at the Buoy in Morro Bay throwing back a few before your laughable posting?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

      • MajorityFan says:

        Never been to the Buoy, kwelles. Though I did hear that you and the Billy might have had more than a few when you verbally accosted a candidate who unknowingly knocked on your door. Regardless, your public bullying failed miserably. Irons smashed Carla again by a huge margin. Deal with it and embrace the the 21st century.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  6. OnTheOtherHand says:

    While some of the blame for illegal sign placement can be placed on the candidate for not properly supervising her supporters, much of it goes to the supporters themselves since the usual process is to give them signs to put up along with instructions on where to do it. It is scary stuff that so many voters do vote based upon name recognition and visual imagery which is why signs are so numerous and big.

    While I do think that all candidates have some positive characteristics (despite what their opponents say), violation of sign regulations is not the most important factor in my voting decision. Negative campaigning and vague platitudes rather than specific positions make more of an impact on me. Their stated positions on issues sort of balances out evenly for me so I am going with Mike Byrd because he seems to have a better approach to dealing with his opposition — fair and civil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 15

    • MaryMalone says:

      QUOTING OTOH: “While some of the blame for illegal sign placement can be placed on the candidate for not properly supervising her supporters…”

      No, ALL of the blame for illegal sign placement is attributable to the candidate.

      If candidates cannot even control their volunteers and keep them within legal guidelines, we cannot expect any better from the candidate’s ability to direct those staff members who will serve them as supervisor.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  7. nurse1 says:

    If signs are the deciding factor of who they vote for. Well that just shows how educated they are when deciding on our potential leaders. Some scary stuff! Its no wonder this county is in a state of despair! I am voting for Muril Clift for my Supervisor! If I were in the 4th district I would vote for Compton. And I am a democrat. Am really disappointed in my party. Does the TRUTH ever prevail here?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 27 Thumb down 14

    • achillesheal says:

      Nurse – change the word county to country and you are spot on. Issues don’t matter to voters who don’t understand them or care. Politics has become the ultimate reality tv show. 2016 presidential ticket could be Shnooki and Kim kardashian, vs honey boo boo.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

    • MaryMalone says:

      Political campaign signs are part of a campaign to inundate local voters with the name and face of each candidate.

      Whether we like it or not, these signs serve to make the majority people feel comfortable and familiar with the candidate on the sign.

      In addition, if the signs are placed in front of businesses, homes, public spaces, or public buildings, it implies that the people who control what happens at those locations are endorsing the candidate.

      Many voters don’t put a lot of thought into who they are voting for, and for many feeling comfortable and familiar with a candidate is enough to win their votes.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  8. Ed says:

    To my knowledge, there were never any Ray signs near the Cowgirl. I also never saw anyone stalking me. Creepy to know.

    When I talked to Ms. Velie, she initially said she had photos of me taking Compton signs. Since I have never touched a Compton sign, I demanded she show me the photos. She then backed off and said the photos didn’t clearly show they were Compton signs. Of course not. It didn’t happen.

    Last week there were one or more Compton signs adjacent to all the Ray signs. Then they disappeared on Friday morning. I asked Ms. Velie how many Compton signs she saw at the County yard. She said none. Curious indeed. The County saves Ray signs for photos, but they don’t save Compton signs?

    Let’s see. Oh yes, tomorrow is the election.

    Read this comment fast as it may vanish very fast.

    Ed Eby

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 28 Thumb down 28

    • MaryMalone says:

      Ed, you really can’t expect to get away with campaign shenanigans right before an election. People are more observant then and since you were an NCSD board member you are known in the community.

      Also, your implications of persecution (“Read this comment fast as it may vanish very fast” and, for the love of god, “stalked”?) just makes you sound paranoid.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 12

    • ffarmchicken says:

      I noticed a Compton sign was placed next to a Ray sign on the county right of way in Nipomo over the weekend. Then on Tuesday the Compton sign was gone but the Ray sign remained on the county right of way. SLO county politics are hilarious!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  9. Kevin Rice says:

    Actually, it’s Caren Ray that doesn’t have a clear understanding of what public property is. Another clerical error.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 24

    • Justducky says:

      Wow Kev, You’ve got clout! Velie publishes your comments:))

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 8

    • dogeatdog says:

      Kevin you have made it more than clear you do not like democrats, please stop already with your own form of bashing the candidates.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 25

    • Justducky says:

      Apparently, Kev you haven’t been keeping up YOUR clerical duties. Where is your “Reporting” on Compton’s “clerical” errors that got her a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission…and this one wasn’t just about P.O. Boxes instead of addresses. This one had to do with not declaring mega bucks in out of County/self-donations. Come on oh-so-non-biased-all-for-the-good-of-the-County-Kevin. Get on the ball…unless, of course, you really have an agenda here…oh, no…couldn’t be.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 14

      • Kevin Rice says:

        That complaint won’t go anywhere because it’s a sham. The supposed donations are fictions. Since you are bound to disagree, would you care to put up a small wager? I’ll take a Guinness when the complaint is found empty.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 16

    • Slowerfaster says:

      Is a ‘false opinion’ like a fake pimp ?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

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