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Village Officials Issue Statement on Removal of Political Signs

Investigation complete into resident's concern about removal of his pro-Walker political sign.

Greendale officials have completed their investigation into last week's removal of political yard signs around the village.

One resident, who thought his yard sign supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had been stolen by an on-duty village employee, contacted local conservative radio talk show host Mark Belling about the situation on Friday, January 6. The resident alleged that politically motivated Village of Greendale officials had ordered the removal of pro-Walker yard signs. 

The resident told Belling during the radio program that when he followed the worker to retrieve his sign, he noted the worker's vehicle trunk was full of pro-Walker signs, but none of the opposing 'Recall Walker' signs.

In response, Greendale Village Manager Todd Michaels told both Belling and a Patch reporter that the sign in question had been on village property adjacent to the man's back yard. According to Michaels, the sign was in violation of the village ordinance on political signs and was legally removed by the worker.  

Michaels said the incident was further investigated on Monday, January 9 and issued an update on the village website:

  • No formal complaint has been filed with the Village of Greendale regarding the confiscation of political signs.
  • Less than 10 signs, of both pro and anti-Walker sentiment as well as signs of non-political nature have been collected in the past two months. It should be noted that in one instance, several of the pro-Walker signs that were confiscated were near the same residence.
  • No signs were removed from resident’s private property.
  • In each instance, the confiscation of signage was done so in accordance with the ordinance as previously shared with you.
  • As stated in the ordinance, the Greendale building inspector and his staff have the authority to remove any signs not in compliance with the ordinance.

Michaels says several residents have contacted him to suggest that village workers ask homeowners to move their signs if they are on village right-of-ways instead of just removing them.

He said the current ordinance doesn't require workers to do that, but that in many instances they do talk to the resident before removing a sign. He said the village may revisit the possibility of changing the ordinance in the future.

Rose Ann January 10, 2012 at 03:11 PM
As a courtesy the homeowner should be contacted and informed of any possible violation.
Jason Patzfahl January 10, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Yes, the village should make an effort to notify the home-owner that they are in violation of some obscure ordinance before taking someone's private property, especially if it is obviously in their back yard and not on a street corner. As I have noted before, I have had my yard sign taken four times - all right out of my back yard (even though I mow the lawn and trim the bushes there, apparently the first 25 feet next to the street belongs to the village). A simple knock on the door would have kept me from calling the police department (three times) first to ask if they confiscated my sign, then making an official complaint after they said they had not.
robert heule January 10, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Commercial signs should be removed from public property as well, that is not always the case. Just check the medians on 4 lane roads in the Southwest. Common law exemption should be granted for the sacred rummage sales.
Greendale Citizen January 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I wonder if those same said signs are removed when village officials are running. Seems to me I see a lot of signs in and around that area when it's time for the village to vote and signs are everywhere. Hmm...
Kaye January 10, 2012 at 07:43 PM
The sign ordinance has been in place for years. If you put a sign of any kind in your yard you should check the ordinances. The elected officials know where they can and can not put signs. There is also an ordinance for how many signs you can put for an individual in your yard.
robert heule January 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
With the exception of size, any ordinance governing the number of signs should be taken to court. What if 3 school board seats are up in a contested race, and 2 trustee seats are up at the same time. A citizen has the right to put up as many signs as he or she desires as long as they are on private property. The complaints come from folks who oppose the candidates being advertised by lawn signs. Who would question the placing of a sign for his or her own candidate? Unless for strategic purposes(avoiding backlash) no one. The municipal officials should lay "hands off" and obey the oath they took to uphold the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment. And if Pewaukee won its case, screw them.
Ron Finger January 13, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Walker is going to win the recall so what is all the hub hub? This is a black eye for our village. As the old rock song says - our sign puller officials have too much time on their hands - at our expense. I wonder if Hermes runs for state positions if his signs will get pulled?

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