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...
A "Meet and Greet" with a candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission was an example of small town politics at its best.
The group got a real good sense of the candidate, how she thinks and what she would try to do if elected. Zero posturing, no pandering, no reading from scripts, no canned messaging. The questions posed were excellent, the responses crisp. I think everyone came away more hopeful and informed than at the start of the event.
Yeah, I sold a few books but that actually contributed to the spirit of the gathering and maybe the "credentials" of Oracle Town as a place to be taken seriously by politicos of all stripes.
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.
I didn't write about Rusty Bowers in my book because I didn't know him well enough. Just occasionally rubbing shoulders and observing him from afar. But I developed a strong sense of who he is from my limited experience.
He reminds me of a local LDS bishop I got to know very well in Oracle - Glen Johnson. Glen was a straight-up guy who would run to fire if there was saving to be done. In fact, he did just that one morning on the way to the Aravaipa Campus of Central Arizona College, where Glen taught building trades. A vehicle had flipped over and looked about to explode, with two elderly occupants trapped in the front seat. He, with me tagging along, got them out.
Glen was bulwark solid - a deeply committed Mormon who acted on his faith commitments. Bowers, I think, the same. A straight shooter. The public can be assured that whatever he said came straight from his heart - God's honest truth. But pretty weird after all this that he would still back Trump v. Biden (if reportage is accurate).
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.