Saturday, August 28, 2010

History of the Disputed Election of 1876


PBS Overview

"By One Vote"

2004 Election Comparison Article

Key Vote: Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act

Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act
- Vote Passed (247-161, 25 Not Voting)

On Tuesday, the House passed this bill to provide $16.1 billion to extend increased Medicaid assistance to states and $10 billion in funding for states to create or retain teachers' jobs. The bill was then sent to the president, who signed it into law on the same day.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO

Report: 90,000 Inmates Sexually Victimized

The government reported Thursday that 4.4 percent of inmates in prison and 3.1 percent of inmates in jail report being victimized sexually by another inmate or staff member.

Those percentages translate to the sexual victimization of 88,500 inmates behind bars nationwide in the previous 12 months, according to a study by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2008-2009.

The study found that:

Female inmates were more than twice as likely as male inmates to report experiencing sexual victimization by another inmate.

Among inmates who reported victimization by another inmate, 13 percent of male prison inmates and 19 percent of male jail inmates said they were victimized within the first 24 hours after being admitted to a corrections facility. In contrast, the figure for women was 4 percent for prison and jail.

American Airlines tilts at record $24M fine

American Airlines vows to challenge a record $24.2 million penalty for safety violations and insists that it did not endanger passengers during a 2008 dispute with safety inspectors that led to massive flight disruptions.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday notified American that it must pay more than twice as much as any previous fine levied by the agency. The airline made 14,278 flights on 286 MD-80 jets without making required upgrades to wiring, the agency charged.

Government study: 1 in 12 drivers admit driving drunk

One in 12 drivers admitted driving drunk at least once over the course of a year, a government survey released Wednesday found.

One in five, or 20% of the 6,999 people surveyed, said they had driven in the past year within two hours of drinking an alcoholic beverage. Yet an overwhelming majority — four out of five people — consider drinking and driving a major threat to their safety, according to the 2008 survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The federal government is spending $13 million in television and radio ads, mostly at sporting events, to get the message out, Strickland said.

"If you drive drunk, you will be arrested," he said.

About a third of all fatal vehicle crashes in the USA involve a drunken driver, Department of Transportation statistics show.

Jacksonville City Council Action

Some of the action taken by the Jacksonville City Council Tuesday night:

Issue: Florida-Georgia game

What it means: The bill would authorize a six-year extension that would keep the annual rivalry in Jacksonville through 2016. A public hearing will be held before the council votes on the bill.

Bill No. 2010-678.

Action: Approved, 16-1 (Yarborough).

Issue: Shipyards property

What it means: In lieu of foreclosure, the owners of the Shipyards property, North Bank Developers, will instead transfer the deeds to the city. The city will receive title to 40 acres of property valued at $20 million; the company’s remaining $41 million debt to the city will be settled in bankruptcy court.

Bill No. 2010-604

Action: Approved, 16-0.

Floridians among most credit card delinquent

Florida had the second-highest rate of credit card delinquency in the nation in the second quarter of this year, according to the most recent report from TransUnion.

The credit and information management company reported credit card delinquency was highest in Nevada (1.5 percent), followed by Florida (1.24 percent) and Arizona (1.11 percent).

The lowest credit card delinquency rates were found in North Dakota (0.54 percent), South Dakota (0.55 percent) and the District of Columbia (0.61 percent).

Duval teachers, school district reach tentative deal

Duval County Public Schools and Duval Teachers United reached a tentative agreement Wednesday that gives $7.1 million in step-raises and benefits to all teachers and paraprofessionals in the district.

The deal is contingent on the district receiving an anticipated $20 million in federal funds meant for education jobs.

The district agreed to the raises and to leave language in the contract guaranteeing automatic step-raises in the future on the condition that the union sit down to rework its salary schedule.

The tentative deal also gives teachers at the top of the salary schedule a one-time payment of $500. Paraprofessionals at the top of their salary schedule would get $250.

The board wants more equity in the schedule for new teachers. Currently new teachers get as little as a $139 raise, but teachers going into their 22nd year can get a $8,249 raise.

Florida is one of 10 in second round for Race to the Top

Florida cashed in on the next round of federal Race to the Top funds, selected Tuesday as one of 10 more states to receive a piece of the White House’s $4.35 billion grant.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the results of the second phase of the competition, a year after Delaware and Tennessee were awarded the first grants.

Three Jax companies make Inc. 500

Three companies based in Jacksonville are included on this year’s Inc. 500, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

The local companies are:

  • A. Harold and Associates, which provides technology, education, engineering, training and management services to the federal government. It ranked No. 182 with a three-year growth rate of 1,563 percent and 2009 revenue of $4.3 million.
  • SNS Logistics, a small trucking company. It ranked No. 214 with three-year growth of 1,382 percent and 2009 revenue of $2.2 million.
  • Ocenture, which offers technology products and services including online identity theft protection, family protection, data backup and digital security systems. Ocenture ranked No. 375 with three-year growth of 798 percent and 2009 revenue of $18.6 million.

U.S. aid meant to reward reforms goes to countries listed as corrupt

A groundbreaking, 6-year-old initiative meant to reward developing countries with U.S. aid for good governance and efforts to institutionalize democracy is giving billions of dollars to nations upbraided by the State Department for corruption in government.

Final Rules Under The Credit CARD Act Provide Boost to Consumers

The final act of a three-part set of credit card reform rules is now in effect.
New rules go into effect to get rid of high fees and penalties on credit cards.

So what's the last installment of The Credit CARD Act of 2009, which took effect Aug. 19?

Less painful punishment

All penalties and fees must be reasonable and proportional to the violation for which the penalty was assessed. The good news here is that penalty fees, typically $39 will likely drop to $25 and there could be fewer of them, experts say.

A get out of jail card

The second big change is that credit card issuers now must re-evaluate, every six months, any interest rate increases they have made to see if factors have changed that warrant a reduction in the rate. So, if you do the right thing, like paying on time, you could resume paying your original, lower interest rate.

Some nasty loopholes remain though

While this sounds like good news for consumers, Nick Bourke, director of the Pew Health Group's Safe Credit Cards Project, says there is a huge loophole. "The Federal Reserve refused to regulate penalty interest rate charges. Consumers have a limited right to cure the penalty and return to their original rate. But if a penalty rate is imposed and you don't immediately pay on time and do so for six months, you may be faced with paying that higher rate forever," says Bourke.

New Orleans Levees Nearly Ready, but Mistrusted

Nearly five years after Katrina and the devastating failures of the levee system, New Orleans is well on its way to getting the protection system Congress ordered: a ring of 350 miles of linked levees, flood walls, gates and pumps that surrounds the city and should defend it against the kind of flooding that in any given year has a 1 percent chance of occurring.

The scale of the nearly $15 billion project, which is not due to be completed until the beginning of next year’s hurricane season, brings to mind an earlier age when the nation built huge works like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Hoover Dam and the Interstate highway system.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blackwater Reaches Deal on U.S. Export Violations

The private security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide, long plagued by accusations of impropriety, has reached an agreement with the State Department for the company to pay $42 million in fines for hundreds of violations of United States export control regulations.

The violations included illegal weapons exports to Afghanistan, making unauthorized proposals to train troops in south Sudan and providing sniper training for Taiwanese police officers, according to company and government officials familiar with the deal.

The settlement with the State Department does not resolve other legal troubles still facing Blackwater and its former executives and other personnel. Those include the indictments of five former executives, including Blackwater’s former president, on weapons and obstruction charges; a federal investigation into evidence that Blackwater officials sought to bribe Iraqi government officials; and the arrest of two former Blackwater guards on federal murder charges stemming from the killing of two Afghans last year.

But by paying fines rather than facing criminal charges on the export violations, Blackwater will be able to continue to obtain government contracts. While the company lost its largest federal contract last year to provide diplomatic security for United States Embassy personnel in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government was incensed by killings of Iraqis in one highly publicized case, it still has contracts to provide security for the State Department and the C.I.A. in Afghanistan.

In June, the State Department awarded Blackwater a $120 million contract to provide security at its regional offices in Afghanistan, while the C.I.A. renewed the firm’s $100 million security contract for its station in Kabul. At the time, the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, defended the decision, saying that the company had offered the lowest bid and had “cleaned up its act.”

Income Inequality and Financial Crises

Mr. Moss says he was surprised by what he saw. The timelines danced in sync with each other. Income disparities between rich and poor widened as government regulations eased and bank failures rose.

“I could hardly believe how tight the fit was — it was a stunning correlation,” he said. “And it began to raise the question of whether there are causal links between financial deregulation, economic inequality and instability in the financial sector. Are all of these things connected?”

Professor Moss is among a small group of economists, sociologists and legal scholars who are now trying to discover if income inequality contributes to financial crises. They have a new data point, of course, in the recent banking crisis, but there is only one parallel in the United States — the 1929 market crash.

Income disparities before that crisis and before the recent one were the greatest in approximately the last 100 years. In 1928, the top 10 percent of earners received 49.29 percent of total income. In 2007, the top 10 percent earned a strikingly similar percentage: 49.74 percent. In 1928, the top 1 percent received 23.94 percent of income. In 2007, those earners received 23.5 percent. Mr. Moss and his colleagues want to know if huge gaps in income create perverse incentives that put the financial system at risk. If so, their findings could become an argument for tax and social policies aimed at closing the income gap and for greater regulation of Wall Street.

City buys Jacksonville Jaguars tickets again, but will give them to charities

The city will pay $43,000 to purchase Jacksonville Jaguars football tickets this year and use the tickets primarily for local charities.

Staff from two elementary schools that jumped two letter grades on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test will go to tonight's preseason home opener against the Miami Dolphins as guests of the mayor. City Council President Jack Webb donated tickets to the Police Athletic League.

The tickets were sliced from the budget last year, but Webb said not having the city buy tickets sends a bad message about Jacksonville's commitment to the team.

The council and the mayor's staff will split 48 tickets and eight skybox passes for each home game, as they have every year but last since the team started play in 1995.

"It's an investment in the team," said Adam Hollingsworth, Peyton's chief of staff.

Peyton helped convene a group of business leaders last year when poor attendance made Jacksonville the national poster child for empty seats and television blackouts. That group has help create Team Teal, led by former Jaguar star Tony Boselli, to sell season tickets and build excitement around the team.

A New York Times article last fall coined Peyton "cheerleader in chief" and the city kicked in $150,000 to help throw "the ultimate tealgate party" for a December game against Indianapolis. A ticket drive for that matchup made it the lone game shown on local television.

Peyton visited the Jaguars' practice this month to promote season ticket sales and the team announced this week it was about 3,000 short of eliminating blackouts for the season.

In a new naming rights deal with EverBank, Peyton agreed to waive the city's $4 million take and allow the Jaguars to keep the money.

The city owns the stadium, now called EverBank Field, and its agreement with the team gives it access to a suite. Last year, council President Richard Clark led the charge to stop buying the tickets in an effort to cut the city budget.

Clark said Friday that now that he is more familiar with the Jaguars operations and given the civic push to sell season tickets, he supports the

2Pac 1992 speech

Thought I would just post it.

Warning: this video has "offensive" language.

Poll: 1 in 5 Americans think Obama is Muslim

Nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Mr. Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 percent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who correctly say he is a Christian is down to just 34 percent.

The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don't know his religion, an increase from the 34 percent who said that in early 2009.

You'll find surprises on your Duval property tax bill

Of the more than 200,000 declared homesteads in Duval County - people whose primary residence is the home they own - more than 106,000 will see their market value drop but the amount on which they are taxed increase.

It's a wrinkle in the Save Our Homes law that calls for the assessed value to "recapture" some of the savings homeowners benefited from over the years.

The law kept assessed values low, capping growth at either 3 percent or the inflation rate - whichever is lower.

But the law works in reverse, too, and the assessed value rises with the inflation rate - even if property values are dropping - until it catches back up with the market value.

Last year, when property values sank, it went largely unnoticed because inflation was only a tenth of a percent, Duval County Property Appraiser Jim Overton said.

Now, assessed values are climbing 2.7 percent with inflation. Combined with Peyton's proposed 9 percent tax rate increase, homesteaded property owners will see a difference.

Without the rate increase, Peyton has said, the City Council would have to find another $45 million to cut from his proposed nearly $1 billion budget.

Hours tentatively restored to Jacksonville libraries, but materials may be reduced

The Jacksonville City Council’s Finance Committee has tentatively approved restoring the hours to nine library branches where services were cut this year.

The committee also voted to change the library system’s organizational chart. Under the new structure, library Executive Director Barbara Gubbin would report to the mayor and council, instead of the Board of Library Trustees.

Earlier this year, five library branches’ operating hours were reduced to 20 a week. In addition, the Sunday hours were eliminated at four regional libraries. The annual savings was estimated at approximately $540,000.

For now, the branch hours will be restored using money budgeted to buy new materials, specifically CDs and DVDs. The current budget allocates $786,000 for such purchases, out of a $3.6 million total materials budget.

On the organization shift, Finance Committee Chairman Daniel Davis said it makes sense that the library director be required to report directly to the mayor and council members on how the library system’s $41 million budget is spent.

Fla. ACT scores unchanged, still below nation

Results released this week, though, show Florida's 65 percent participation rate is above the 47 percent national rate. High participation tends to lower average scores.

Florida's composite again was 19.5 compared to the national average of 21, which dropped slightly from 21.1.

This year's result halts a downward trend for Florida, which posted a 20.3 just four years ago.

Florida also trailed in meeting college readiness benchmarks. Only 16 percent of Florida students met all four benchmarks - English, reading, math and science - compared to 24 percent nationally.

ACT scores dip, but more students meet college benchmarks

To measure whether students are ready for college, the ACT sets minimum scores in a subject area test to indicate a 50% chance of getting a B or higher or about a 75 chance of getting a C or higher in a first-year college credit course. The courses include English composition, algebra, biology and introductory social science courses like Psychology 101.

The ACT report found a combined total of 43% of test-takers met either none (28 percent) or only one (15 percent) of the four college readiness benchmarks.

A record 1.57 million students, or 47% of this year's high school graduates, took the ACT. That's a 30% increase from five years ago.

Ethnic and racial minorities this year made up 29% of all ACT test-takers, up from 23% in 2006. Most significant was a near doubling of Hispanic graduates tested, to almost 158,000 students.

The average composite scores for Hispanics dipped slightly to 18.6 this year after holding steady at 18.7 the previous three years.

Civilians to Take U.S. Lead as Military Leaves Iraq

By October 2011, the State Department will assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police, a task that will largely be carried out by contractors. With no American soldiers to defuse sectarian tensions in northern Iraq, it will be up to American diplomats in two new $100 million outposts to head off potential confrontations between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish pesh merga forces.

To protect the civilians in a country that is still home to insurgents with Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, the State Department is planning to more than double its private security guards, up to as many as 7,000, according to administration officials who disclosed new details of the plan. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress, the officials said.

“I don’t think State has ever operated on its own, independent of the U.S. military, in an environment that is quite as threatening on such a large scale,” said James Dobbins, a former ambassador who has seen his share of trouble spots as a special envoy for Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo and Somalia. “It is unprecedented in scale.”

White House officials expressed confidence that the transfer to civilians — about 2,400 people who would work at the Baghdad embassy and other diplomatic sites — would be carried out on schedule, and that they could fulfill their mission of helping bring stability to Iraq.

Stimulus funds 38K Florida jobs

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 has funded 38,505 jobs in Florida so far, according to statistics compiled by Onvia Inc.

The Seattle-based company (Nasdaq: ONVI) that tracks government contract availability said the 38,505 jobs placed Florida at No. 5 in a ranking of all states. Pennsylvania led the list with 73,510 stimulus-created jobs.

Florida ranked No. 26 in the U.S. for stimulus funding per capita at $194. Alaska led the nation with per capita funding of $962.

Florida ranked No. 14 in the U.S. for future private-sector job creation resulting from stimulus-funded project contracts for the rest of the year. The list was led by North Carolina, followed by Vermont.

Nelson wants tax breaks for space industry

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants to create five business enterprise zones around the country, most likely in places that already have NASA centers, where investors who put their money in commercial space ventures would get major tax breaks.

The Florida Democrat will show legislation Tuesday that would give tax breaks worth 20 percent of their outlays to investors in private space-related businesses. The Commercial Space Jobs and Investment Act would help attract engineers and scientists to the zones and create jobs in a space industry facing uncertainty, Nelson said.

Nelson's bill would amend the 1986 tax code to give investors a credit worth 20 percent of their investment in businesses that create launch vehicles, re-entry vehicles, related equipment or are part of those operations. The investment would have to be for no less than five years.

The bill also would raise a tax credit for research and development in these zones from 20 percent to 30 percent if it is conducted on space-related tests in those enterprise zones.

Divorce and alimony: How much do you get?

With a new state law that took effect July 1, the state finally has laid down guidelines for alimony. Prior to that, judges relied on previous cases to determine how to handle alimony.

The law spells out exactly how long someone must be married to qualify for long-term alimony — and sets up different types of alimony for everyone else.

Here are the types of alimony spelled out by the law:

•Permanent alimony: In the past, even those married no more than 10 years might qualify for permanent alimony — depending on what part of the state they live in and the judges hearing their cases. But the new law says long-term alimony cannot be considered for anyone who was married less than 17 years.

Factors that may come into play, says DeWitt, include medical conditions that may make a person unable to work full-time, or a spouse who's been married for decades and gets divorced late in life — and now does not have any realistic prospects of getting a full-time job.

•Durational alimony: A new category of alimony, this is temporary alimony — awarded for "short" or "moderate" periods of time to ex-spouses who've been married from seven to 17 years.

What you need to know: This is still somewhat fuzzy and up to the discretion of judges, say lawyers. "The maximum that can be awarded is the length of the marriage," said Martinez. If, for instance, you've been married 13 years, you may be eligible for 13 years of alimony. But it's not clear if durational aliimony can be modified, which may be up to judges.

A case that might qualify for durational alimony, DeWitt said, would be a couple who have kids ages 10 to 12 — and who had an agreement that mom would stay home with the kids until they graduated from high school. "The idea is that the durational alimony would allow her to be home for the kids for five or six years, until they graduate and then she can enter the workforce," DeWitt said.

Expect lots of legal wrangling over durational alimony. "It used to be the big fight among litigants was whether a spouse deserved permanent alimony," DeWitt said. "Now the fight's going to be in durational alimony — how much does someone get and for how long?"

Rehabilitative alimony: Traditionally used by lawyers for women (and men) who had been out of the workforce and needed education or training to support themselves or a family. Typically, this involved creating an education or retraining plan. Often, this type of alimony is limited to four years of support plus tuition expenses to pay for a former spouse to finish college.

•Bridge-the-gap alimony: In addition to durational alimony, the law creates a new, short-term type of alimony called "bridge-the-gap" alimony, which is designed to help a spouse get back on his or her feet after being out of the workforce for years. The maximum amount of time an ex-spouse can be supported under "bridge the gap" is two years, said Martinez.

Who might qualify for "bridge the gap"? "Let's say you haven't been married for seven years — and you don't have a concrete plan, like going back to school, but all you need is a little help," said DeWitt. "Maybe you're qualified to get a job, but you need some time to find a job. That's who this is designed for."

Divorce and money

•Although men accounted for 97 percent of the payers in alimony cases in 2008, according to the US Census, women have increasingly found themselves supporting former husbands.

•Americans paid $9.4 billion in alimony to former spouses in 2007, up from $5.6 billion 10 years earlier, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

•Women made up 46.8 percent of the work force in 2009, up from 41.2 percent in 1978, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

•The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers was $657, or 80 percent of men's $819.

UNF named among top military-friendly schools

The University of North Florida was named a “military-friendly school” for 2011 by G.I. Jobs magazine, the school reported Monday.

The magazine ranks UNF in the top 15 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students. It is the second consecutive year UNF was ranked by the magazine.

Criteria for inclusion in the list include efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students, results in recruiting military and veteran students, academic accreditations and polling more than 7,000 schools nationwide.

UNF received a grant this year for more than $200,000 from the Florida Braive Fund at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, which allowed the university to establish the military and veterans resource center on campus. The center, which opens Aug. 20, assists veteran students with the often overwhelming admission, enrollment and financial aid processes, providing a supportive environment for veterans to achieve academic and life success.

Study: Birth Order Affects Smarts, Personality

Birth order typically creates some form of sibling rivalry, but a new study suggests it also has an impact on personality and intelligence. A group led by Tiffany L. Frank, a doctoral candidate at Adelphi University in Long Island, N.Y., found that first-borns tend to be more intelligent, while younger siblings get better grades and are more outgoing, according to a LiveScience report.

For years, scientists have tried to determine what effect birth order has on a person's life. Past studies that looked at U.S. presidents, Nobel Laureates or NASA astronauts found that they were overwhelmingly first-borns. Other studies found that middle children are independent and inventive, while the youngest children are more carefree.

Frank and her colleagues, Hannah Turenshine and Steven J. Sullivan of Lawrence High School in Cedarhurst, N.Y., surveyed 90 pairs of siblings in high school. The siblings were asked to report their grades and rank themselves against their siblings on academic performance, work ethic and intelligence.

To verify the students' reports, researchers checked the results against academic records and test scores.

The first-borns had higher test scores in math and verbal ability, while the later born children had better grade point averages in English and math.

In separate experiment, researchers asked 76 pairs of siblings in high school to rate themselves on a series of statements designed to assess personality. They found younger siblings to be more extroverted, sentimental and forgiving than their older counterparts. Older siblings tended to be perfectionists more.

Federal Workers Earning Double Their Private Counterparts

Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.

Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years.

Men's Health magazine says Jacksonville's bad for kids

Jacksonville is in last place out of 100 in the September edition's list of America's "Safest Cities for Children."

The article's first paragraph even takes a shot at the city, saying, "Some places are just too dangerous for children: crocodile ponds, stores that sell barbed wire, Jacksonville."

Nancy Dreicer, state Department of Children and Families regional director, said the latest numbers for Jacksonville show it is one of the best in the state for lowest re-abuse of children. So the magazine's bottom-rung listing is "incorrect" and "absurd."

"It is probably old data, if it exists," Dreicer said. "We are below the state average in terms of average abuse. We are taking less kids into foster care in Jacksonville than just about any place in the nation, and we are proud of that."

Jacksonville City Council President Jack Webb, father of three, said readers shouldn't "believe everything you read."

"We can always do better. But are kids safe? I have lived here for 15 years, and are my kids safe? Yes," Webb said. "They [the magazine writers] don't get around much, do they? Apparently they didn't check out the Bronx."

The survey lists Madison, Wis., as America's "Safest City for Children," 20th best in accidental deaths, second best in car-seat inspection locations and sex offender listings, and 46th in abused children protection. Jacksonville listed under 99th place New Orleans, 100th in car-seat inspection locations, 86th in accidental deaths, 53rd in sex offenders and 68th in abused children protection.

The magazine used public databases to tally various perils posed to children. It included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for accidental death rates for children 5 to 14 and 2008 percentages of abused children protected from further abuse gathered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Signs don’t obey, yet we must?

Yard signs are legal in yards, or on private business property. But when the campaigns put signs on public space, they fall into the same category as all those “bandit” signs offering to help you lose 30 pounds, sell your house and buy a puppy.

“They’re not legal,” said Tom Goldsbury, chief of the city’s building inspection division.
Goldsbury’s department used to handle sign code enforcement. And at one point, when the budget was better, he hired two guys with pickups to spend several days a week collecting illegal signs. They were especially busy during campaign season.

“But you get so many overzealous candidates,” he said. “We’ve got other things to do. It’s hard to keep up with that.”

I don’t know if political signs work. But when signs are littering the right of way, I hope they do the opposite. I hope people see them and think about how some candidate’s campaign ignored the laws we’re telling local business owners to abide by.

Earlier this year, there was a push by some local politicians
to crack down on bandit signs. Ordinance 2010-253 was introduced to address “sign regulations and zero tolerance for litter on public property.”

The ordinance says that each illegal sign can be subject to a fine: starting at $50 for the first and hitting $350 for the fifth and beyond.