Leon Worden




Picayune jabs at a ho-hum election

By Leon Worden
Friday, April 7, 2000

I
was halfway expecting Marsha McLean to come running into The Mighty Signal offices, screaming bloody protest when the two front-runners in next week's City Council race, Cam Smyth and Bob Kellar, put up big "Vote For Me" billboards in violation of the city mothers' lofty campaign ordinance.
    Imagine my surprise when McLean put up 4-by-8's of her own, breaching the same city code section.
    I know it's frivolous, but what else do you write about in this, the least lustrous election in our city's scant history?
    There have been more code violations but, judging from the way both the likely winners and the also-rans are committing them, either nobody cares about the city laws or, more likely, nobody remembers what they say or why they were written in the first place.
    Take, for instance, the city code section that outlaws the annoying practice of placing handbills under the windshield wipers of parked vehicles.
    Sure enough, I'm leaving the Jan Heidt (how long are we going to have to live with that?) Metrolink Station in downtown Newhall on opening day, and what do I find but Marsha McLean and Diane Trautman fliers on all the vehicles in the new Jan Heidt car lot.
    Yes, for the record, I took pictures.
    It really ought to be a prerequisite that if you want to run for City Council, you have to know what the city laws say.
    Nice guy that I am, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to McLean and Trautman and assume it was some overzealous campaign flunkies from the Tony Alamo School of Marketing, and not the candidates themselves, who left the literature on all the cars.
    But how much forgiveness are we wont to give?
    Cowboy Poetry, the coolest thing ever to gurgle up from the bowels of our otherwise unremarkable City Hall, has, in its seven-year life, always been hands-off when it comes to campaigning.
    Granted, some homeowners in Placerita Canyon have posted signs in their prominent front yards along the Cowboy Poetry bus route, showing their support for their favorite hopefuls. No harm there. Can't stop civilians from doing that.
    But boy, was it irritating to see a huge McLean billboard mounted atop a car under a spotlight in the city's official Cowboy Poetry parking lot. Politicking totally spoils the mood of Cowboy Poetry and, as best I can recollect, all the candidates in past elections have been sharp enough to know a turnoff before they subject the voters to one.
    Posting signs on utility poles or anything else that's electrified is just plain stupid. I guess the folks from the phone company haven't noticed the Trautman signs on their private property.
    Oh, and about those potentially "illegal" billboards. For the detail-oriented, the city's campaign law says the name of the candidate's campaign committee and mailing address must be clearly visible, with letters that show up as big as 10-point type would appear on an 8 1/2-by-11 sheet of paper.
    And for the legal-oriented, City Clerk Sharon Dawson says the city can't enforce the billboard disclosure requirement until a court case in another city is resolved. But heck. Just because the wanna-be's don't have to comply with a particular code section, you'd think they'd want to anyway... if just to avoid trifling potshots on the local op-ed page.
    Leon Worden is The Signal's business editor.

    ©2000 LEON WORDEN — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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