The top story in today’s Chron is about a dustup over yard signs between a homeowner and the neighborhood association.
The way Michael Skadden sees it, there is little difference between a sign supporting Bill White for mayor and one supporting President Bush.
Both, the lawyer reasons, are political in nature.
That’s why he is perplexed that his neighborhood association wants him to remove the “Bill White / Get Houston Moving Sign” from his yard.
At the same time, the southwest Houston neighborhood is dotted with signs that say “We support President Bush and Our Troops.”
His neighborhood association says that you can’t have “temporary signs, such as political signs” on your lawn more than 90 days before an election. Judith Jones, the association secretary, who informed Skadden that he must remove the sign, says that the Bush signs are OK because they don’t say anything about supporting Bush for re-election.
I say that’s ridiculous. It’s a loophole, like the one that allows unrestricted “issue ads” as long as they don’t say the magic words “elect” or “defeat”. If you think that those pro-Bush-and-troops signs aren’t “political”, you’ve got your head in the sand. If you need evidence, consider this:
After the war began in Iraq, the Harris County Republican Party produced thousands of signs supporting Bush and the troops. The party requested a $1 donation for each sign.
How is that not political? Even if you could somehow imagine that the message isn’t overtly political, the Republican Party is earning a buck a sign. Don’t you think that maybe that might have a political purpose?
Did I mention, by the way, that the person who issued this egregious ruling is a GOP precinct judge? Who had one of those pro-Bush signs in her yard for many weeks?
“He has turned a teeny, tiny ant hill into something big,” Jones said of Skadden. “He had the nerve to tell me that the Constitution protects people from people like me.”
He’s right. Get over yourself. Either both signs are okay, or neither of them are. You can’t have it both ways.
UPDATE: From John Williams’ column on Monday, which I meant to blog about but forgot:
Last week, the Houston Chronicle detailed a lawyer’s fight with his civic association to keep a campaign sign for mayoral candidate Bill White posted in his yard.
The lawyer, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, says free speech laws protect the sign.
The association says the sign violates deed restrictions because it was planted more than 90 days before the November election. But the association allows signs distributed by the Harris County Republican Party that say “We Support President Bush and Our Troops.”
And the association’s president? Linda Sanchez Kroneman.
If that maiden name rings a political bell, maybe it’s because she is also known as the sister of mayoral candidate Orlando Sanchez.
Kroneman says she wasn’t involved in the efforts to remove the White sign. She plans to discuss the association’s political sign policy with its board later this month.
Oh, yeah. I’ll bet she’s looking forward to the conversation.