Take down your campaign signs... or else

OK, you've had a whole week after the 10-day mark to take down your political campaign signs in your front yard and you still haven't done it. We know because we walk by your house every day and they are still there. The city and state say you should have taken them down Nov. 14, but now you've gone too far. Our plea to you: Please take down your signs and don't waste city money by making them send you a letter.

We know how great you feel when you walk into your home and remind yourself you did vote for the first black president. Or maybe the sign reminds you that you aren't as crazy as the rest of America that drank the Kool aid and voted that guy into office.

Why should you care? And why isn't this violating your freedom of speech? We interviewed Paul Smith, zoning investigator for Minneapolis' Community Planning and Economic Development department to find out.

Smith hates wasting tax dollars as much as anyone. That's why he's asking you to comply with the city ordinance and remove your campaign signage voluntarily.

"The reason for this ordinance is to prohibit and minimize sign clutter," he says.


Residents have been calling the city's 311 number to report campaign signs still up in their neighbor's yard. Coincidentally, the callers usually have problems with one party's signs and not the others, he said.

Smith says the city doesn't go around and remove signs from yards. They typically notify the campaigns to have them speak to their supporters about the issue. If it isn't resolved, the city could send letters to the resident. Ultimately residents could be fined $200, but Smith couldn't recall a time when this actually happened.

"Usually people do the right thing when they are informed of the rules," he says.

But what about this crazy-long recount we're dealing with? Can't we continue to support our candidate to the bitter end?

Nope. The election is over, the recount is not, Smith says. Too bad, so sad.

If you really feel the need to continue supporting your candidate, win or lose, move your sign inside and post it in a window. There's nothing stopping you there, but things could get sticky if your sign is vulgar or inappropriate.

Some signs are considered free speech and not campaign-related, Smith says. Those "bring the troops home" signs or any statement that doesn't directly correlate with an election is OK.

That got us thinking. What about all of the people in Minneapolis who keep their bright green "Wellstone!" signs up? That's directly connected to a previous campaign, but Smith says that's OK.

"We treat them as a free speech because there is no active campaign and no possibility of a future campaign."

Beyond the clutter, Smith says it's about mending bridges between jaded neighbors. Take down the sign and maybe your McCain-loving neighbor will talk to you again.

So please, move your sign out of the cold and into your garage for safe keeping. Or at least stick it in the window. Soon it would be covered by snow anyway.