And you thought Chicago political campaigns were whacked out...

I’m not a fan of campaign signs.

I know they’re essential to campaigns because how else will people get to know the candidates?

There’s so much information on a campaign sign that there’s no need to research a candidate or slate.

You can find out that some is experienced, dedicated and that the candidate cares.

And it seems that the more signs a candidate or slate has, the more qualified they are.

Right.

So as the campaign for Buffalo Grove Village Board winds down, the focus appears to be on signs.

Issues?  We don’t need no stinking issues, we have signs.

Signs address everything – the issues, transparency, civic responsibility.

It’s a sad state when those running for public office focus on image rather than substance. It’s especially critical – yes critical – in today’s world of quick-info.  News consumers don’t take time to understand the news about the world around them – whether it global or local.

It’s no wonder that the Illinois State Board of Education has a task force that is calling for a mandatory civics class for Illinois students.

Perhaps they want to start in Buffalo Grove.  Not because Stevenson or Buffalo Grove high schools need it – their students get it – just watch them in action at the village’s annual civics forum coordinated by Village Clerk Jan Sirabian.

Strong civics involves weighing all sides of an issue from multiple, independent and non-bias sources while sticking to the facts and not mere opinion.  A novel idea.

But in our little town (thank you Simon and Garfunkel) of Buffalo Grove it seems like the superficial is what’s beneficial.

Like signs.

Signs in parkways, on lawns, fences and just about anywhere you can put them.

It’s to the point that the signs have seemingly become a campaign issue.  Most recently “signgate” as one social media poster put it, involved campaign signs touting the re-election of Village Board President Jeff Braiman and Beverly Sussman who is running against him

 It seems as though both Sussman and Braiman placed signs on and in front of the fence that belongs to The Villas at Hidden Lake development at the corner of Deefield Parkway and Buffalo Grove Road. Sussman had one of her large banners on the fence along with several standard lawn signs.  Braiman supporters, seeking equal space, placed a couple of lawn signs there as well, a move that should not be seen as unexpected. At issue is who allegedly had permission to place the signs there.

The drama unfolds when it was discovered the other day that someone placed additional Sussman signs in front of the Braiman signs.

Now this is a classy campaign.

Those signs, however, are not then only ones at the center of signgate.  During a stop a couple of Saturdays ago at Town Center, a struggling strip center, I was amazed, if not a bit taken back, by the number of campaign signs for the Save Buffalo Grove slate. I understand that individual stores may want to display a sign, but it appeared that the entire center was supporting the slate.

During a return trip I found that there were 32 signs at Town Center; 28 in the common areas and four by entrances on Lake-Cook Road and Illinois Rt. 83.

A few things come into play here.  If you are trying to lease vacant retail space, do you permit a litany of campaign signs haphazardly placed throughout the property? There seems to be a bit of irony here since the beleaguered Town Center has been a focus of downtown redevelopment efforts touted by the Save the Buffalo Grove slate.

Tim Donohue, property manager for CTK Asset Services, which manages Town Center, said Monday that he was unaware of the signs (he was on vacation the week before) and that “We’re not supporting any slate of campaigns.  Someone from the group may have put them there.”

He added that tenants may be allowed to have “certain temporary signs,” they need to follow village and property guidelines.  “I have never come across this before.”  He did a site visit on Tuesday to assess the situation and seemed more than a little surprise at what he found.  “There were a lot of signs out there,” he said. He added that when checking with tenants, “nobody was able to tell me that they put the signs out, so I took them down.” All 32 of them.

As for granting permission, Donohue was adamant that “nobody asked me permission; I did not give permission to anyone to put signs like that out.”

In a telephone interview last Wednesday, Sussman said that she goes to Town Center once a week, but had not seen the signs and was “not aware of them.”

In the meantime, sources tell me that signgate found its way to the Village Manager’s office where both Village Manager Dane Bragg and Deputy Village Manager Jennifer Maltas have reportedly been in touch with all candidates about placement of signs and the fact that village inspectors will remove campaign signs that are on village right of way.  Among the signs reportedly removed were those placed near the Vernon Township Hall where early voting is taking place.  Maltas did, however, say the problem is not unique to this election.  “Every election season we tell the candidates that they (signs) can’t be on village right of way.  They can be on private property with the owner’s permission.

In regard to Town Center, Maltas was emphatic that the village did not remove any campaign signs because the development is private property.  She added that campaign sign regulations are handled by the Community Develop Department.  Maltas said that when a violation is spotted, photos are taken to document the infraction

After that, “We contact them and they can pick their signs up,” Maltas said.  Signs that are not claimed are discarded.

Hello, WoodStein?

You would think that as the election gets closer, candidates, especially those who are not happy with the incumbents, would be addressing issues.  Things like economic development, the pending hatchet job by the Rauner administration, and maintaining the village’s financial situation.

But no — it’s all about signs.  Voters need to look past the signs and research the candidates.  As for the candidates, as noted, they need to address issues, offer solutions to things they see as problematic, and get past the sign issue.

The late Will Rogers once said “All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”

When it comes to effective voting, if all you know about a candidate is what you read on a campaign sign, then it’s more than an alibi for your ignorance; it’s a lack civic responsibility.

 

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