Tag Archives: political signs

Roundup: Signs, Art Sale, More


A reader writes:

“Our ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign was stolen from our front yard. We paid for it; it was up for weeks, and we live on a side street.

“I am stunned, having grown up in this town. We disagreed, we debated, but we didn’t do warfare with political signs.

“The sign was on our property. How is this not an invasion of my property? How is it not the bullying or pummeling in the name of what you don’t like or believe?

“Black lives matter. They still matter, even when you steal signs.”


Speaking of political signs: An Old Hill resident offers this warning to a possible thief:

(Photo/Frank Rosen)


The Artists Collective of Westport sponsors an outdoor trunk show of “affordable art” this Saturday (October 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Westport Playhouse parking lot).

Artists will display their works from in and around their cars. All COVID restrictions will be followed. But, the Collective says, “we can’t mask our excitement!”


Lindsey Blaivas spotted this house on Long Lots Road. “Instead of hauling away this magnificent tree that fell during one of our many storms, they landscaped around it,” she writes.

“It is a piece of art — and a tribute to the magical gifts that nature sometimes leaves us.”

(Photo/Lindsey Blaivas)


Like many venues, Longshore has been hit hard by the coronavirus.

Yesterday, however, Bruce McFadden spotted a ceremony taking place. It was not big — and there seemed to be plenty of space between guests and tables. Still, it was a nice reminder of a bit of normalcy.

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

And finally … on Columbus Day, let’s honor the people who knew this land long before the Europeans “discovered” it. Songwriter/saxophonist Jim Pepper adapted “Witchi Tai To” from an ancient chant he learned from his Native American grandfather. It is still the only song in the history of Billboard’s pop chart to feature a Native American chant.

Jaime Bairaktaris: “I Saw Hatred Today”

Jaime Bairaktaris is a multi-talented, community-minded Westporter. On Monday the 2016 Staples High School graduate, current Sacred Heart University student and 2020 Connecticut Paraeducator of the Year witnessed something disturbing downtown. He writes: 

I’ve heard about hatred in our community. I’ve heard stories from friends, neighbors, social media and news sources. But I had not seen it myself.

This week, I think I saw it. It was ugly and deliberate, in the form of 3 middle school boys with their opinion to display, or partially formed frontal lobes to blame, or a sense of common respect to try to gain.

But there it was, plain as day.

I paused while tutoring another middle schooler. We watched the boys pull up a sign for a national political candidate from Jesup Green. They broke it into pieces, threw it in a trash bin, then took turns spitting on it before walking away, screaming to each other.

Spitting on it!

We were confused. So were the many other kids and adults sharing Jesup Green and Riverwalk tables. My student and I talked about respect, hatred, and why — regardless of opinion — we respect all things, and all people.

A nice day, marred.

We talked about better ways to share our own opinions, and how everyone’s opinion matters in one way or another.

Then we talked about how we never spit. Not during a pandemic, not on a sign, not at another person. Not ever.

As we talked, a group of middle school girls retrieved the sign from the trash. They placed it back on the lawn.

My student and I talked about how there are helpers everywhere. We talked about why we need to restore the good that is sometimes taken from a community, and how sometimes it is taken by people who may not realize they’re doing it — or may not care.

I wish I could have thanked those girls. Not just for putting back the sign, but for caring. For teaching us a positive lesson. And for reminding us that the majority of kids who hang out downtown do care.

But then the boys returned. They ripped the sign from the ground again, threw it onto Jesup Road, and took turns jumping on it. Then they flung it onto the middle of Jesup Green, before finally leaving.

Those boys did not care.

I wish I could have said something to my student, to everyone around us, to the girls who tried to help — something that could have made the situation better.

But I was at a loss. So I went back to our social studies. The hum of conversation and COVID-era working returned to the green.

I reported the incident to the police, so it’s on record. But I don’t know who those 3 boys are. I only know they don’t care. I don’t know their names, their families, their hobbies, their strengths, who they’ve helped in their lives, or who looks up to them.

I don’t know any good things about them. I only know that they destroyed a sign on Jesup Green.

Is this bigotry? Impulsivity? Stress? Lack of education? Too much media? Am I a snowflake? Or a Karen? Do I care too much? Did I not care enough to stop them? Is this a non-issue? Or is this a real probme.

This is not a case of “kids being kids.” The majority of those I see on their skateboards, scooters or bikes, in the deli or on the green, are energetic, loud, and — most importantly — respectful.

They’re doing what they should be doing: having fun, while learning how to make their own choices.

These boys made their choices. They chose hatred.

So I can’t help but wonder: How do we fix this?

It’s Election Season. Sign Here.

The Westport Police Department is non-partisan. But — like every Westporter – every fall they get caught in the great political sign crossfire.

They say:

With the approaching November elections comes the traditional posting of political signage.

Once again the Westport Police Department has begun to receive complaints related to the disappearance, removal, and/or theft of these signs.

Residents and visitors are advised against taking it upon themselves to remove
signs that do not belong to them, from either public or private property. The
enforcement of the town’s rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not
private citizens.

The removal of signs from public or private property by someone not authorized to do so by the town, or by the owner of the sign, may constitute theft.

Entering onto private property to remove signs may also constitute
trespassing. Both of these acts can ultimately result in arrest.

Political signs are considered an expression of free speech, and are allowed on
public property.

It is not advisable to place signs on state property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, nor on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway), as the state may remove them.

No sign may be placed on any school property without the prior permission
of the Superintendent’s office.

No sign may be placed within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore.

No sign may be placed on Town Hall property.

No sign may be placed on trees or utility poles.

No sign may interfere with traffic visibility.

Signs on private property require property owner approval. Signs on private
property must not extend beyond the property line or into the town right-of-
way. It is suggested they be removed within 2 days after the election.

Finally! A candidate we can all agree on. (Photo/Luke Garvey)

Pic Of The Day #911

Finally! A candidate we can all agree on. (Photo/Luke Garvey)

Signing Off On The ’19 Election

As election season heats up, Planning & Zoning Commission member Chip Stephens sent this email to all political parties in town: Democrats, Republicans, Save Westport Now and the Coalition for Westport.

“Let’s see if it works,” he says hopefully.

As P & Z enforcement officers, Al Gratrix and I have worked hard to keep illegal signs at bay. We try our best to keep legal signs, like campaign signs, in proper and legal places, and hope to keep campaign signs away from restricted areas.

Here are the simple rules we hope all will respect:

  • Please do not place where signs will block traffic views
  • Do not place within parks or beaches
  • Schools are restricted, but some do not enforce; placement is at your risk
  • Do not place on state or interstate roads (during the past few years, the state has removed these signs weekly)
  • Try not to trash the public-sponsored gardens
  • Try to limit 1 sign per intersection
  • Finally, try to practice civil signage: Don’t place your sign directly on another’s sign. Instead, offset your sign, or move it a few feet away.

NOTE : P & Z will not remove campaign signs. Please don’t call the office; it was not us.

Every year, a few people who don’t like signs or are just bad apples take signs down

Look around where a missing sign was. Often you will find it lying nearby. If state crews removed the sign, you may find it in the sand shed in the state truck property across from Sherwood Diner. (You are allowed to reclaim your signs if they are there.)

Please use common sense, as if it was your property. It is your town, so please try to follow the rules.

Thanks, and good luck to all,

Meanwhile, alert “06880” reader — and Westport voter — Matthew Murray writes:

So who’s Joe?

(Photo/Matthew Murray)

I can’t tell whether he’s a Republican, Democrat or from Mars. It has me intrigued, but I’m not going to vote for him.

He is also quite prolific with his sign placement — though every corner is a bit much.

Signs: The Lawful Sequel

Earlier today, I posted Amy Ancel’s story about the theft of legal signs for non-profit events. Here’s a re-post from 2017, courtesy of the Westport Police Department:

Unfortunately we have experienced vandalism and theft regarding temporary signs in the past. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. These crimes may lead to criminal charges such as trespassing, criminal mischief and/or larceny.

The following policy has been established by town officials, in order to provide coordination for the placement of temporary signs by Westport non-profit organizations wishing to advertise one-time-only charitable events.  Signs placed on public property advertising a private business or company will be removed. (Bold italics are mine!)

The sign in the foreground is illegal. (Photo/John Karrel)

General Guidelines for ALL Temporary Signs

  • Town property includes traffic islands and road rights of way.
  • The town may not approve, nor is it responsible for, any signs erected on State of Connecticut property. It is not advisable to place signs on State of Connecticut property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, nor on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway), as the state may remove them.
  • No sign may be placed on any school property without the prior permission of the superintendent’s office.
  • No sign may be placed within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore.
  • No sign may be placed on Town Hall property.
  • No sign may be placed on trees or utility poles.
  • No sign may interfere with traffic visibility.
  • Signs on private property require property owner approval. Signs on private property shall not extend beyond the property line or into the town right-of-way and is suggested they be removed within 2 days after the publicized event or election.

There are rules for advertising charitable events.

Temporary Signs for Advertising Charitable Events

The placement and locations of temporary signs on Town property for the purpose of advertising a charitable event requires review and approval by the Westport police chief, director of Planning and Zoning, and director of Parks & Recreation, or their designated representatives. Qualifying organizations (i.e. local non-profits) may send the attached request, including proposed locations, for the placement of temporary signs to: Selectman’s Office, Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880 or selectman@westportct.gov.

The following conditions will apply to charitable events:

  • A maximum of 15 signs are allowed for each such event. This includes directional signs.
  • The signs may be erected not more than 2 weeks before the event and must be removed within 2 days after the publicized event.
  • The size of the sign cannot exceed 2 feet by 3 feet.
  • Non-compliance may result in the removal of signs.

Please note that this press release pertains to Town of Westport roads, and not state roads, like Route 1, Route 33, Route 57 and Route 136.

Temporary Signs for Political Purposes

Political signs are considered an expression of free speech and are allowed on public property. The General Guidelines noted above apply to temporary signs for political purposes.

 

P&Z Signs Off

Tag sales. Computer help. Painting services.

Effective immediately, those signs — and all those others crowding town-owned roads, traffic islands and rights-of-way — will be removed.

And discarded.

That’s the promise of the Planning and Zoning Department, according to a press release sent earlier today. It reiterates regulations that have been in place since at least 2002.

A few caveats:

Temporary signs advertising charitable events may be placed on town property. They require approval by the chief of police, P&Z director and Parks and Recreation director (or their “designated representatives”). Qualifying organizations (“i.e., local non-profits”) must fill out a request form — including proposed locations.

There’s a maximum of 15 signs for each event. They can’t be placed more than 2 weeks before the event, and must be removed within 2 days. Maximum size is 2 feet by 3 feet.

In addition, signs cannot be placed on school property without permission of the superintendent’s office; or “within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore”; or on Town Hall property, trees or utility poles, or in any way that interferes with traffic visibility.

Political signs are considered “an expression of free speech,” and are allowed on public property. But the guidelines above — amazingly — also refer to “temporary signs for political purposes.”

Signs on private property require owner’s approval. It is “suggested” that they be removed within 2 days after the publicized event or election.

The town does not control — and is not responsible for — signs on state property. Town guidelines say, “It is not advisable” to place signs on property, rights of way and islands on Route 1, 136, 57, 33 and the Sherwood Island Connector, or the I-95 and Merritt Parkway ramps.

All that info was announced today. Let’s see how much better the town looks tomorrow.

Hey, they did say “effective immediately.”

A Sensible Solution To So Many Signs

Voters are not the only Westporters turned off by political signs.

Candidates are too.

In fact, they dislike them so much — the expense, the putting-up-and-taking-down, the “arms race” feeling they engender and the animus they create — that one local politician proposes a solution:

Get rid of them entirely.

The idea comes from an RTM candidate. He (or she) agreed not to be named, because the goal here is sanity and a less visually polluted streetscape, not self-promotion.

(Photo/David Meth)

But here is his (or her) plan:

In the next election cycle, give candidates the option to donate the money they’d otherwise spend on signs to a fund that would create a website. The site would include pertinent information about all candidates who participate, with a link to their own personal web pages.

There would be plenty of publicity, so voters would know which candidates are voluntarily forgoing yard signs, in favor of the website. Each candidate’s financial contribution would be posted on the site.

Each candidate would design their own page. They could write or post as much information as they’d like, including videos.

In addition, each RTM district could hold candidates debates — perhaps at the library. They’d be videotaped, and posted on the website too.

Part of the funds used for signs could instead help rent commercial space downtown. (There’s no shortage of empty stores!) Candidates could have “office hours,” when voters would drop in and ask questions.

Parents could bring their children, to learn about the political process. (After which, they’d all go shopping downtown.)

The RTM candidate who suggests this has his (or her) own website. But he (or she) has to walk door to door, and post on social media, to let voters know about it. (Mailing out flyers is prohibitive.)

“I’ve been chased by people and bitten by 3 dogs, among other things,” the candidate says.

“And I can’t blame homeowners. I don’t like it when people come to my door either.

“An opt-in, robust central information repository, and ‘office hours’ for the public to talk to each candidate, just makes more sense to me.”

Stop, Thief!

Hot on the heels of another torrid “06880” discussion, the Westport Police Department notes that they have received “a number of phone calls” regarding the theft of campaign signs. They remind Westporters that this is not exactly legal.

Chief Dale Call says: “The taking of campaign signs from either private or public property that their presence is allowed on will not be tolerated, and is subject to a criminal arrest.”

He offers this alternative: “A better way to indicate a person’s voting preference is at the polls.”