Save Carmel Valley . org - Measure G signs disappearing in C.V. --  Opponents blame one another as election nears for hot contest



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Measure G signs disappearing in C.V. -- Opponents blame one another as election nears for hot contest

Monterey Herald -- Oct. 29, 2009



By LAITH AGHA
Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 10/29/2009 09:01:17 AM PDT


Where are the signs about Carmel Valley's hotly contested Measure G going?

With Election Day five days away, the forest of campaign signs for and against Carmel Valley townhood that have sprung up along the valley's roads in the past couple months has been thinned to a few standing trees.

The county's Public Works Department has removed many of the small signs — both the green pro-town signs and the red anti-city signs — that were on county property, mostly along roadways.

But proponents of Carmel Valley incorporation say opponents are responsible for the disappearance of at least 13 large "Yes on G" signs that were showing on private party as recently as Tuesday.

Proponents say the signs, which measure 4 feet by 8 feet and cost $150 each, were apparently removed during a sweep late Monday or early Tuesday.

"It seems to be a concerted campaign this week," said Larry Bacon, a proponent who is running for the proposed town's town council. "It's shameful."

Bacon said he filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Office on behalf of the Carmel Valley Forum, the organization that pushed for incorporation to reach the ballot.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Cmdr. Mike Richards confirmed that complaints have been filed but said an investigation will not be opened unless there are reported sightings of people removing signs.
No suspects have been reported.

Bacon said the forum is offering $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of whoever is responsible.

In some cases, assailants allegedly trespassed on private property to remove signs, while other signs were taken off fences, proponents say.

Lawrence Samuels, a leader of the opposition campaign, said he does not know who is responsible for the sign removals, and that some "No on G" signs have disappeared as well.

"Our signs have been stolen, too," Samuels said. "I always tell people it's a crime, you can't take them down. Unless it's on your property."

Most of the missing "Yes on G" signs were in the eastern part of the valley, including some in Carmel Valley Village. Samuels, who lives in the western part of the valley, suggested the assailants are of the village's "cowboy" mentality, referring to the prevalence of horse ranchers in the eastern part of the valley.
"It's a different culture out there," Samuels said.

He said the cowboy culture of the village reminds him of the old Pace picante sauce commercial in which cowboys sitting around a campfire object to salsa made in New York City.

Paul Fickas, San Juan Bautista-based campaign consultant, said campaign signs are stolen every election, often by juveniles who know people involved in the campaign.

"It's unfortunate that it happens, because those signs cost money," said Fickas, who ran for Monterey County supervisor in 2000. "We actually tell our clients ahead of time that a percentage of (signs) are going to go missing. It's very, very rare that not one sign is touched."

Fickas said he always gives his clients the same advice regarding the removal of campaign signs.
"Don't do it," he said. "It's not worth the risk because if you get caught, 99 percent of the time the campaign that gets caught loses."

He said that especially in the age of cell phone cameras and video cameras, "all it takes is one of somebody doing that and it's a front-page story."

Laura Cohen, who lives near the village, said that while driving her children to school Wednesday, she noticed that the large "Yes on G" sign in her yard was no longer there.

"Someone came way into our yard to pull it down," Cohen said. She said she was painting her own sign to replace the missing one.

Laith Agha can be reached at 646-4358 or lagha@montereyherald.com



Last Updated: Oct 30, 09

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