INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - A recent USA Today headline read: "Voters bombarded by calls, ads" and in smaller type: "Many in swing states say enough in enough." Anyone who has watched viscous negative television ads, read newspapers, answered robo-calls from political campaigns or driven around our campaign sign strewn streets is probably thinking: "There oughta be a law."Well, laws require government action and governments can't restrict free speech or expression in this country ... but wait, there is a law governing placement of campaign signs on public property or rights of way. The State of Nevada prohibits any signs along state highways as does Washoe County on its streets and rights of way. Yes there are laws but there are apparently no governmental resources available to enforce them because of budgetary restraints and reduced government revenues during the current economic hard times.So it was that a little Incline nonprofit corporation called Get Out The Vote, Inc. sought to encourage state and local candidates running to represent the Incline Township to voluntarily curtail illegal campaign sign placements. Kind of like the "mouse that roared" this tiny corporation emailed 17 state and local candidates on October 7 identifying the law, describing the prohibited placement areas and asking each candidate to agree to a campaign sign non-proliferation challenge, limiting placement to only private properties. Fourteen of those candidates emailed back their agreement. They were (in alphabetical order by office): for Assembly, Randy Kirner; County Commission, Marsha Berkbigler; District Court Judge, Cal Dunlap; Nevada State School Board, Donna Clontz and Dave Cook; Washoe County School Board, Dale Richardson and Lisa Ruggiero; IVGID, Tim Callicrate, George Del Carlo, Bill Devine, Bea Epstein, Jim Hammerel and Jim Smith; Fire District, Wayne Fischer, Dale Smith and Paul Zahler. Nevertheless we ended up with all these "vote for" signs on seemingly every street corner in Incline/Crystal Bay. So last weekend Get Out The Vote, Inc. conducted "pledge reconciliation day."True to their promises, with all signs on private property (or no signs), were: Randy Kirner, Dale Richardson, Cal Dunlap, Dave Cook, George Del Carlo, Bill Devine, Jim Hammerel, Wayne Fischer, Dale Smith and Paul Zahler. Needing a "nudge" but promptly correcting the problem were: Jim Smith and Lisa Ruggiero. Ignoring both the initial and a second request were (also in alphabetical order by office): Marsha Berkbigler; Michon Makedon; Donna Clontz; Tim Callicrate and Bea Epstein; Steven King; and the "winner" of the environmental campaign sign polluter award, Scott Freeman ... and this guy is running for judge. The sign check was made at an unannounced time and covered the most highly trafficked areas. Moreover it was not feasible to include national campaigns (many federal candidate signs were placed by unidentified locals). Because signs are easily movable, exceptions may occur, but wasn't this experiment better than the last 20 years of scenic pollution every election?Now, mute that vicious political attack ad on your TV and go answer the robo-caller ringing your phone. And cheer up. November 6 will be here before you know it.- Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees; he can be reached at email@example.com.
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