Smile Politely

Keep Central Central signs missing “by the dozen”

When something is a terrible idea, and a community organizes to fight back against it, there’s generally a moment of desperation for those who proposed it and support it to begin with. 

In recent weeks, thousands of Keep Central Central signs have been going out to engaged residents and evidently, they’ve started disappearing by the dozen in certain neighborhoods around town. 

Kelly Hearne, a resident of Champaign close to Eisner Park near Church and Mattis, reported her sign missing last week, and now almost a dozen others in her neighborhood have done the same. 

“Our next door neighbors told me this morning that ‘lots of people’ in our area had signs stolen, mentioned there was a story on the news. I searched but couldn’t find anyone reporting it. Their sign was stolen, so they put up a new one tied to a tree well out of arm’s reach.”

As a reminder about the legalities of stealing political campaign signs in any way, I asked Prue Runkle about it, who manages volunteering at Keep Central Central. 

“The theft of yard signs is a Class A Misdemeanor  — 720 ILCS 5/16-1(b)(1) covers “t]heft of property not from the person and not exceeding $500 in value.

“Whether it’s a small yard sign or a big one, if its value is below $500, the same statute applies. Under state law, you cannot touch another candidate’s signs for any reason. Even if they are illegally placed, you must call that campaign and have them come out and remove it.

“Feel free to disagree with your neighbors politically,” she continued, “but leave the signs in their yards alone. It’s an un-neighborly gesture to silence people politically by stealing their signs.”

I am a little less “neutral” about the referendum.

Leading up to the April 7th elections, the communities of Champaign and Savoy are essentially being asked if they want to bond $144 million to create more urban sprawl by building a high school on farm land in the far most northern part of the city, an area of town that is decidely not growing in the way that the Board proclaims that it is; being asked if they want to create a massive disparity between the two high schools by under-funding a much needed addition and upgrade to Centennial High School; being asked if they want to under-fund a much needed new Dr. Howard Elementary School; being asked if they want to ignore myriad other issues facing the district at the same time; being asked to stand behind a district that literally brags and boasts about how little they ask the community to spend per household on education. 

You can’t make this type of stuff up. The current school board has about as much insight into the needs of this community and its schools as a salamander that has been drinking Jack Daniels and smoking crack rocks all morning.

The proposal, which has liberals and conservatives holding hands and working together to see it defeated, is even worse than the one that got shot down last November.   

(Full disclosure: I am an active member of Keep Central Central, but I speak for myself and not the group)

Picture provided by Kelly Hearne

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