Dem Signs Cut Up, Put In Porta Potties
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.
We've Seen This Guy Before
Masked Poll Watchers Are Showing Up at Voting Sites With Handguns and Kevlar Vests - Bloomberg
Political violence and its partner political intimidation run thematically through my book - Sometimes David Wins. It's a reality that rises and falls in prominence with the shifting times but it never disappears entirely. In my lifetime and the lifetimes of my parents, grandparents and as far back as our family tree extends there it is, deeply woven into US public life.
These days political violence dominates the atmospherics of the moment for obvious and compelling reasons. The savage beating of Nancy Pelosi's husband is just the latest example. No both-siderism is possible here. One party coddles violence like Rosemary cooing over her baby. That would be the Republicans of course, playing with fire.
Stealing political signs lies far to one side of the innocuous v. injurious continuum. Exactly how it fits is unclear because the devil's in the details of specific circumstances. When I wrote Pinal County's five supervisors with a brief description of what happened in Oracle, one so far responded. Supervisor Cavanaugh affirmed the importance of our reporting of the crimes to PCSO while declaring any investigation was up to the sheriff (Mark Lamb) and/or state law enforcement authorities. He also said that a Kari Lake sign had been defaced with a mustache and swastika planted on one and that another had been run over by a vehicle. In fact, he led with that "both siderism" point. Of course, as Supervisor Cavanaugh well knows, when it comes to a crime what the "other side" does is irrelevant. A crime is a crime. Politics is politics. Separating the two is of vital importance in our fractious world.
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...
Remembering Joanne Welter
Joanne was one of the first people I met starting out in Tucson. She was social justice minister at St. Cyril Catholic Church at the time. Initially we didn't hit it off. I found her prickly about details I thought inconsequential and she thought I was skating over important specifics. Like what was possible in her parish, how hard to push and how much obeisance to pay to reigning authorities (bishops and pastors).
I had to take her seriously if I wanted a relationship between St. Cyril and what was to become Pima County Interfaith Council because she was the gatekeeper. And vice versa. So in a sense, early on, we were stuck with eachother, institutionally speaking.
Our plot thickened when she moved downtown to a diocesan position comparable to her role at St. Cyril. There she assumed responsibility for the Campaign for Human Development (CHD). For Industrial Areas Foundation organizers trying to build new broad based organizations, CHD monies were pretty much make or break. That put Joanne in a power position. And of course she knew it.
In Sometimes David Wins I highlight a few of Joanne's key contritubutions to the organizing. What I don't get in to is the deeper level of our relationship which blossomed over the many years, growing into real friendship.
It was at that level I remember her so affectionately. She operated very much like the woman religious she never finally resolved to become. That left her betwixt and between; her deep faith on the one hand and the institutional Church on the other. Mostly what troubled her was the role of women in the Church and the propensity of the all male clergy to function as lord and master of all they surveyed. So we talked a lot about our mutual faith struggles and what they had to do with our lives and what we were trying to accomplish in the world.
At the memorial mass prominent among shared remembrances was Joanne's steadfast commitment to migrants and border issues. That was where her investment of time, energy and money ran deepest. There her enthusiasm was infectious and influential.
It may be a stretch to say I loved her like the sister I never had but that's what comes to mind now that she's gone. Truly blessed by our relationship.
Small Town Politics At Its Best
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.