The Chron tackles the bandit sign beat now that we're at the traditional beginning of political season. The article doesn't focus solely on the political signage that's going up. But with Eric Dick's innovative use of illegal placement of signs 20-feet up on utility poles, it makes the cut. Rick Hurt gets some more well-deserved coverage on the topic ...
Driving about town in a white Chevy Lumina with the words "Blight Buster" on the back, [Rick] Hurt seeks out offending signs and uses a paint roller on a pole to get to the signs he cannot reach or that he cannot take down safely.
Hurt targets signs of any stripe on public property. He takes particular satisfaction in the role he and other anti-sign activists played in a $105,000 judgment against a credit company for sign violations.
Hurt's current bête noire is City Council candidate Eric Dick. His seemingly ubiquitous illegal sign placements started drawing complaints in February.
"If you're going to write laws, enforce laws or judge laws, you should abide by the law," Hurt said.
Dick, a lawyer who claims full knowledge of the city's sign ordinance, blames overzealous volunteers for the improper placements.
"That's what happens when you have a whole lot of people who are supporting you," Dick said. "I'm not there babysitting them."
There's just no way to take Eric Dick's claim seriously here. A lot of campaigns have a lot more supporters than he has, yet you just don't see the signs of other candidates going 20-feet up on utility poles. Dick had been unapologetic about the signs going up until Centerpoint put him on notice. Now, all of a sudden, he's got "overzealous volunteers."
Just for fun, though, let's define "a whole lot" as it pertains to the Eric Dick campaign:
- His facebook page has 287 likes.
- There's a photo of a Google Analytics screenshot on his facebook page showing 212 pageviews for the campaign website for a 10-day period in June.
- There were all of 24 individual contributions to his campaign listed in his 7/15 report. Four of those represent individual who gave more than one - one of whom contributed three times. That represents 19 individual donors.
One of those is not registered to vote at the address where they are listed. What makes that so interesting? It's because that person is listed as a recipient of campaign funds at the same address as Gemini Group, which is the "company" listed as distributing signs. The "company" has taken in just over $5,000 over multiple times for sign distribution.
3011 Maple Grove is the residence and voting address for Ruth Dick. There's nothing searchable that indicates the existence of an actual "Gemini Group" anything. Deanna Singletary, the campaign donor and recipient, is not yet registered to vote at this address (there's another month for that to be rectified, though).
What makes it so odd is that the address for the "company", and one of Eric's donors, is that the address is the residence of Ruth Dick. It is also mere blocks away from Captain Benny's - the listed meeting place for "sign distribution." The money for sign distribution certainly seems like a lot of money. But the money spent at the meeting? Not so much:
Either Eric Dick bought a round of water for all of those overzealous volunteers or maybe the number of said "volunteers" really could been watched more closely after all.
There are certainly those, like Rick Hurt, that highlight the fact that candidates who engage in this sort of behavior would be responsible for enforcing the policy that they are violating. I get that, but I rarely go quite that far myself. For instance, I think that both Gene Locke and Peter Brown are honorable people. There are times when people either have a disconnect between the activity of campaigning and the positions they advocate for as candidates. This was certainly evident with Peter Brown's views on ridding Houston of above-ground utility poles while his own campaign signs were left up in empty lots and utility poles in between his last run for City Council and his then-upcoming run for Mayor.
But there are other times when you just know the candidate is flat-out lying about their very deliberate breaking of the law. And that's what Eric Dick is doing when he says that there are nefarious "overzealous volunteers" placing yard signs 20-feet up on utility poles. If that's how he runs his campaign, just imagine what kind of city councilman he'd make.
It's heartening to see that a number of other people care about cleaning up the blight of signs placed illegally in their neighborhoods. And as the Chronicle story mentions, the issue goes far beyond just political campaigns. Since I do the occasional bit of work in political campaigns, I tend to keep my focus on signage there. So, to that end, keep the submissions coming in to Empty Lot Primary either directly on the website or just email 'em to me the old fashioned way.