One mystery is solved. Not the "Who Done It" but where the stolen signs ended up.
Yes, that's right in porta potties set up for participants in the Annual Oracle Run sponsored by the Oracle Historical Society.
I know for sure who didn't steal the Democratic leaning signs on our property near the Oracle Post Office.
I know it wasn't my friend referred to in the preceding post. And it likely wasn't a Democrat or Independent (duh). So the disappearance and/or destruction of roughly 60% of Dem leaning signs around Otown was likely the work of Great American Patriots doing their patriotic duty for the other party.
But nobody's head was bashed in with a hammer, nobody was screaming profanity and threatening violence, and nobody was assaulting the national capitol calling for the hanging of - take your pic - Mike Pence and/or Nancy Pelosi. And nobody was calling for the hanging and rehanging of Barack Obama as an Oracle Freedom Loving Patriot did on line in 2014. So what's a little petty criminal activity in our little Arizona town?
Here's what I think. Sign stealing and/or defacing is a gateway political crime hardening the handful of perpetrators for bigger actions to come (just wait for 2024!).
An obvious response is tit-for-tat retaliation leading to inevitable escalation.
Speaking of escalation, pictured is another Great American Patriot photographed while doing his patriotic duty around a Mesa ballot drop box. He looks ready for action doesn't he? No, this isn't a Halloween costume as far as I know, just a guy expressing himself anonymously by parading in front of voters who might choose to drop their ballots in turf he patrols.
The political signs around Oracle will be gone in ten days or so. There will be winners and losers declared sometime after the votes are counted on election day and around then most of the signs will likely be trashed.
Some property owners like Kaz and myself objected to the posting of signs by campaigns we don't support in front of land we own. Pictured above are signs of candidates we do support. There's a story behind the switchout.
Several weeks ago signs appeared in this location endorsing our adversaries. I asked Supervisor McClure at a public meeting what to do in just such a case. He suggested calling the campaigns in question (then calling him if one or more of the campaigns failed to take action).
That's exactly what we did and, guess what, we got an apology for and immediate removal of the offending signage without calling our Supervisor. It turned out that a long time friend of ours on the other side of Oracle's political divide stepped in to coordinate the much appreciated response.
Political signs sprout up like weeds every campaign season, and tiny unincorporated Oracle is no exception. They come in lots of sizes and shapes placed in all manner of locations seeking to attract eyeballs. Do they have really meaningful impact? Or are they primarily instruments to attract ire from "the other side" while trashing up the landscape?
Not to mention the ire of those caught in the crossfire and those left to clean up abandoned and vandalized signs after elections are lost in the morass of memories?
So why do signs matter to me? First, I'll look at a few how's and why's.
The installer of this one may have thought the choice of location was pretty cagey. It appears to suggest the church supports this particular candidate. Clever, huh? Maybe not. It implies an endorsement by the Oracle Union Church which may not have been authorized by the governing board, pastor, much less the broader congregation--particularly if it is on church property. Still, the association remains, and it's a powerful one if the campaign can get away with it, uncontested.
Now, signs like these are a totally different kettle of fish. The property owner was consulted (Kaz and myself) in both cases with full support, even gratitude forthcoming. No manipulation here. No clever scheming. Just straightforward mutual commitment.
And how about this one? Clever associations right? Three women candidates close by the Oracle Women's Monument and a LIttle Free Library outpost. And the property owners? Well, we made the sign at no cost, own the land and encouraged the improvements. Ironically, this is almost directly across the street from the Oracle Union Church.
Now, here's why political signs have become of particular interest to me...
My original plan for Sometimes David Wins was to end with a summary chapter hearkening back to Grandfather Silas and the events involving his company (Colorado Fuel and Iron) connected to the Ludlow Massacre. My editor/publisher Greg Pierce suggested pulling the Bus Blockade story from the middle of the book and placing it at the end. Not only because it was chronologically correct, but more importantly because it was a fitting conclusion to a story that's still unfolding. I took his proposed move as an inspired editorial intervention and embraced it.
Now, almost a decade later, the events of that day seem an eerie foretelling of the riot/insurrection of Jan 6, 2021 in the Capitol. The Pinal County Sheriff of the time - Paul Babeu - played the instigator (Trumpian) role. Arizona Militia members played the armed/threat (Proud Boys/Oath Keepers) role. Social media posts stirred up turnout - both planned and opportunistic.
At least two of the blockaders, both Oracle residents, later self-identified as Oath Keepers (although I doubt they traveled to DC for J6). One of them in 2013-2014 endorsed the lynching and re-lynching of then President Obama in the presence of Attorney General Eric Holder. His on-line posts joined a hemorrhage of profanities and insults directed at "libtards", "fudge-packers" and, of course, numerous "pieces of shit" (POS), presumably like Kaz and me.
Two profanity laden verbal assaults separated by 55 years bear remarkable similarities. The first one I include in my book - Sometimes David Wins - about an incident outside a Frisch's Big Boy Restaurant in Richmond, Indiana. The second just happened next to the Oracle Post Office, which I described in Going so Local I'm in the Weeds. Both hit me out of the blue.
The commonalities are eerie. They both happened in times of extreme social/political division, with passions running high. They're both colored by suspicions (mine) about the impartiality of possible law enforcement's response. They both carried overtones of violent threat above and beyond the assaultive language (ripping the windshield wiper off my car in one case; taking a vid of me and my license plate in the other, with it's implied "we know who you are and where you live"). Given the gun culture in both places, and the hostility of attitude on full public display in the confrontations, I am certain that both of the principals traveled with firearms in their vehicles.
I'm not looking for controversy, but sometimes it just happens. I noticed political signs by some extremist candidates posted on property Kaz and I own in the heart of Oracle, so I removed them-- careful to not deface any, just relocating them nearby on the ground.
So I'm doing due diligence on a Wendy Rogers sign when a guy in a pickup hangs a U and starts in my direction. He's giving me the middle finger, so I roll down my window as he approaches, yelling in my direction: "You fucking piece of shit". As if I didn't hear him, he repeated the same message at least three times. Then he informs me he can put signs anywhere he "fucking well wants". "Not on our property," I say. So he tells me what he thinks I am again - "a worthless piece of shit" - while pulling out his phone, apparently making a vid for his tribe and taking pics of me and my license plate.
Kaz and I have been involved in the local political scene since we moved here. By necessity really. It started with the politics of toxic waste dumping above the aquifer that sources Oracle's water. Imagine our horror when we found out that the University of Arizona was carting radioactive and chemical waste to a disposal site a couple miles away from the house we bought after moving from Queens. To make matters worse the University was hiding what it was doing from Pinal County officials as well as residents of the region. It was a humdinger of a wake-up call. So we never went back to political sleep.
Don Shelton passed away several months ago. His daughter Diane invited me to his memorial service at Casas Adobes Congregational Church UCC. I was glad to join with others to remember and celebrate his life. Don figures prominently in one of the chapters in David Sometimes Wins. I got to know him a bit in the writing of it.
I suppose one might say I was lucky to connect with the guy when I did, around time he was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. But in my mind luck doesn't explain connections made between fellow travelers on the social justice road who meet up along the way.