Claremont Insider: Signs of Our Times

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Signs of Our Times

Let the Sign Wars Begin

Claremont has a rich recent history of political signs. Usually the arc of the story is predictable: One side puts out signs; the other side, or possibly kids, steal them; there is a complaining letter in the newspaper, maybe two; the opposing signs sprout up; corner lots such as the southwest corner of Indian Hill and Foothill are plastered with multiple signs; one or two pop up in the public right of way; there is a gripey Courier letter from a partisan--as was the case we think in the early part of the "Parks and Pasture" debate when the "No Assessment" signs appeared unanswered--"so I guess the side with the most signs wins"; and then things settle down to the Claremont Norm: the Village one color and the rest of the town another.

It's probably a small beer issue to note that the "NO Bond" people stole the march on the YES folks last week and got their signs out first. It remains to be seen whether this is indicative of superior organization and strategy on part of the ragtag ad hoc NO team or sand in the gears of the YES juggernaut.

We do note that in more than a few places where the YES signs appeared, they were planted directly in front of a NO sign. This strikes us as bad form. Having talked to people on both sides of several political issues, we know that usually the locals try to get permission from the property owner. And some property owners allow signs of any stripe on their property on the theory of robust public spirit and all that. (The aforementioned Sherwood Florist at Indian Hill and Foothill seems to be one such business.) However, most owners try to encourage comity and civility in the signs' placement. We know that some places, such as the strawberry field at the corner of Towne and Baseline (see image, end of post) never give permission to the establishment side.

On the other hand, placing your signs literally on top of the opponents' signs seems to be a quite natural and predictable behavior on the part of the proponents. Like a big old tomcat spraying his territory, the YES people are busy putting their scent over that of the unwanted interloper. It's a limbic response to a perceived threat, atavistic really in its entitled origins and operation.

When we see one of the signs covered by another, it's a bit of a jarring image to imagine one of the alpha male leaders of the YES side--Bill Fox or Mike Seder or Jeff Stark or Superintendent Terry Nichols--doing the marking.