Local News

May 16, 2014 7:59 PM by Caroline Flores - cflores@kristv.com

Campaign Sign Removal: Who Should Foot the Bill?

CORPUS CHRISTI - We have more on our story from last week about the city failing to fine political candidates who haven't taken down their campaign signs.

According to city ordinances if candidates are not in a runoff race they have 10 days after an election to remove their campaign signs. Or face a $500 fine per sign.

But the city tell us that it hasn't issued any fines for signs because the effort can be a waste of time. We're told that many times judges will just dismiss the fines and give the candidate a warning instead.

Today we're looking into why the city is using Code Enforcement Officers, and your tax dollars, to clean-up after political candidates.

"They go out and instead of writing a citation, they take the sign down," said Taxpayers Association President Jack Gordy.

According to city ordinance, it's the political candidates responsibility to take down their signs after elections. Not the city's. Gordy says he has seen city workers, who are being paid on your dime, go out of their way to do someone else's job and picking up signs that shouldn't be up.

"I sit across the street and watch them take down Eric J Cantu and other signs that weren't supposed to be there," said Gordy.

And the officer who oversees Code Enforcement admits they do the work candidates should be doing.

"The Code officers are getting them picked up, and talking to these people. So it's being resolved," said Capt. David Blackmon.

But being resolved at the taxpayers expense. Something Assistant City Manager Susan Thorpe admits is true. Adding that she feels it's all worth it.

"We do the same thing with illegal signs for garage sales and other types of things when we go do our illegal sign sweeps. You've probably seen some of that. We've got a lot of data on that. So, that's taxpayer dollars, but we think it's for a good purpose," said Thorpe.

The penalty for not complying with the ordinance is a fine, but none have been issued this year. Instead the city has picked up the signs for them. Code Enforcement says it's called all the candidates and informed them of the ordinance, but that's it.

"I don't think that we'll never fine them. I think our preference is to start with education," said Thorpe.

For now, there seems to be no concrete plan to fine political candidates for not complying.

We have another election coming up in November. City officials say they plan to remind candidates about the ordinance when they file their permits to put up campaign signs. Hopefully we'll see better compliance than we did after the primaries in February.


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