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Sick of Campaign Signs? Government's Hands are Often Tied

Residents have complained to village about recall signs that haven't come down yet — more than three weeks after the election.

The election's over, already. So why are some of the recall campaign signs still up?

That's what some annoyed residents have complained to village officials more than three weeks after the .

But, in many cases, village officials say, there's nothing they can do about it. And that's due to court cases protecting people's freedom of expression on their own property.

They are, however, working with a property owner whose land contains a large "We Stand with Scott Walker" sign and a bulletin board with smaller signs at the corner of Pilgrim Road and Silver Spring Drive.

Several residents have come to asking officials to do something about it, said Matt Curran, community development director for the village. And in that rare case, they probably can, he said, because the sign doesn't meet size requirements.

Patch also has received a complaint about the signs. One local woman wrote, "I am one of hundreds in the Falls who think it's time to take them down."

Sparking confusion is the fact that several years ago, the village did have an ordinance that only allowed political signs to remain up for a certain period of time after an election.

However, the village rewrote its entire sign ordinance at that time to regulate many kinds of signs. That's when officials rewrote the ordinance to allow what Curran called "personal issue signs." They did so to be in compliance with court cases, he said.

"You can’t regulate content," he said. "There have been court cases on that, so the ordinance was changed to allow personal issue signs."

A personal issue sign can contain whatever content a person wants, as long as it "doesn't incite a riot or something," Curran said. "If you want to put up a sign that says Mickey Mouse is my hero, you can put up a sign in your yard as long as your property is 5 feet off the right of way and within certain size requirements."

And you could leave that sign up as long as you wanted. After all, it's your property.

What the village can regulate is whether the sign is too large or appears dilapidated.

"Personal issue signs can't exceed 6 square feet," he said.

That's the problem with the signs at the corner of Pilgrim and Silver Spring, said Curran.

"We received several complaints on that one," he said. "We are going to be contacting the property owner to inform them it's larger than 6 square feet."

Although people could be cited, Curran said the village prefers to try to work with property owners first to just get them to take the sign down. Usually, that works.

"We're not going to go around fining people to get compliance," he said. Fines could range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars a day.

Jane Kolberg, zoning and inspections technician for the village, said a man walked into Village Hall this week to complain about the sign. She didn't take his name.

"He just said that it’s up there, and he didn’t like it and felt it should be taken down because the election is over," she said.

Kolberg said she thinks most of the recall signs are slowly coming down on their own.

"On the street I drive through, there used to be about eight, and there are maybe two left," she said.

She said the issue also arose in the last presidential election, where people complained about a few campaign signs remaining up long after it was over. The village did intervene with one that had become dilapidated, and the property owner agreed to take it down.

Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) June 29, 2012 at 10:44 AM
I love that guy's signage and go by there all the time. By the way, I still have mine and will continue to show it all the way through Walker's re-election in 2014. I might still have to have it up for 2018, if I don't get his presidential sign instead, that is.
M. Chavannes June 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM
It is not the fact this person on Pilgrim wants to keep the sign up, I feel it is more of the issue that this person is being a poor sport about the victory of the candidates they supported. Everyone is happy when their candidate wins an election, but move on. We teach our children, or at least I do, that when you win a hard fought game, celebrate, but also congratulate the victor and move on. You do not go up to your opponent and do a victory yell in their face. When you win by a landslide, you do not have an over-the-top celebration, you do a quick clap or so and start over. You do not excessively celebrate. This person on Pilgrim should be flagged for excessive celebration. The political process favored certain candidates in these past elections. The next election things might change and I would send this same note to anyone excessively celebrating the other political party. Celebrate and move on.
W . Benz June 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Call Greco and he will have the Village employees remove the signs like he did to Davis . Oh wait we Fired 8 DPW workers !!! So maybe we can hire Sign removers pre - post- elections .... Maybe use our new employees @ the Solyndra Hotel. Hey,, Mc bride give Scooter a call @ Kruegers they will tell you about the village sign ord.
Uncle D June 29, 2012 at 01:53 PM
"Get over it?" Maybe! I personally took mine down after the election for two reasons: 1) Out of respect for neighbors who did not share my views and...2) Out of personal satisfaction that the repeat election reinforced "Majority Rules". It is their right to have a different opinion. It's also my opinion that the recall folks are the ones that can't "Get over it". They are the bitter ones and they are the ones that don't respect the election process. The "Recall" in and of itself is evidence of this. As long as there are Whiners there will be those who celebrate excessively. Stop whining and the celebrations will end. Grow Up!
Steve ® June 29, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I hope this emboldens him to keep it up longer. We had to put up with 18 months of recall walker signs and other hate speech. People didn't remove their Packer signs and such a month after they won the superbowl, so how is this different?
Menoparent June 29, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Right on about yelling victory in your face. These people I believe know they are ticking some people off by going over the top with celebration. I even saw the lady of this house trimming her trees around these signs so that drivers can see them better. That is excessive. I unfortunately have to drive by it almost every day! These people and many like them in this village, just want to be belligerent and childish.
Steve ® June 29, 2012 at 02:22 PM
►I unfortunately have to drive by it almost every day!◄ Fortunately you do. It is a reminder of the BS you and your blue fister ilk put us through for 18 months. ►just want to be belligerent and childish.◄ I just puked a little in my mouth laughing so hard
Menoparent June 29, 2012 at 03:13 PM
steve, you are proving my point perfectly, thank you. Puke some more!
Uncle D June 29, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Menoparent: The longer you display your childish temper tantrum, the more fuel you give to the Excessive Celebrators. Governor Walker won. "TWICE"!!!
M. Chavannes June 29, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Uncle D - taking down the signs is very respectful and I agree with you on the majority rules and yes there are those people for some reason cannot get over it. And Steve, do not classify me into a group just because of my occupation. You do not know my my views. As far as I see it, you are one part of the problem. The bottom line is you need to know how to win respectfully and how to loose respectfully and that entails not continuing to whine and not continuing to showboat. Each one feeds off the other and it takes the bigger person to take the first step. Well done Uncle D for being that person and respecting the opinions of everyone. As for everyone else, democrats and republicans, it's over, move on.
John Wilson June 29, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I say leave them all up. We do have freedom of speech in America... besides, who knows, after Moammar Walker gets indicted, perhaps these same people are simply being pro-active for the next recall...
Steve ® June 29, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I have no idea what your occupation is. I don't and didn't' have a sign in my yard in respect to my blue fister neighbors and because they always get stolen anyway. But if a few weeks after the election some want to still show their support. Let them and stop crying about it. We all had to look at the stupid failure signs from the blue fisters for 18 months, it's hardly time to move on. Never forget what they put us through.
Greg June 29, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Go past the SEIU office, their widows are littered with recall signs, blue fists, 99% and Obama signs. But I consider the source.
Greg June 29, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Who would be getting recalled?
Steve ® June 29, 2012 at 07:52 PM
When you see a Packer sign, logo, shirt, decal, flag are you offended? The season doesn't start until September and the last time they played was January. Should we have all of these displays removed because some might be offended?
Nanc June 29, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Whatever happened to common courtesy and respecting others? I may not agree with your opinon, but I respect your right to express it. Its over. There are more battles and debates coming. But how about a little maturity?
Greg June 30, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I find your Prius offensive and the Obama bumper sticker really sets me off.
W . Benz June 30, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Nanc were have you been the last year and previous elections "courtesy and respecting others" and "Maturity" Please ! and YES I and others are SPIKING the ball. ......Nanc don't wear a suit you may get muddy
Craig June 30, 2012 at 02:53 AM
I made my point ( see photo ) I removed my signs because the houses across the street are for sale. If not for that, I would still be gloating.
Craig June 30, 2012 at 03:03 AM
But I wonder how many blue fisters peeled off their "recall Walker" bumper stickers?
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) June 30, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Instead of keeping up our Walker signs perhaps Walker can visit of few people off the recall petitions and leave an upper decker. Then they can be reminded of how the mature people of Wisconsin were treated during all this. FYI http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=upper+decker

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