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Hands off campaign signs

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Unknown vandals and thieves reportedly have attempted repeatedly in recent weeks to intimidate three Luna Circle households away from urging votes for a presidential candidate. Folsom City Councilwoman Kerri Howell Oct. 14 announced to fellow council members and to a meeting audience that she was concerned over campaign signs being tampered with around the city. Signs for two presidential candidates and for several ballot measures are being targeted, Howell said. Folsom Police Department Sgt. Eric Heichlinger said patrol officers recently got orders to suppress campaign-sign vandalism and thievery. That’s after Luna Circle residents, including Gerald Greenwood, filed repeated reports. “It’s dangerous what they’re doing – going on people’s property,” Greenwood said. “You don’t know what will happen when you do that.” Greenwood said two neighboring Luna Circle households have been intimidated into no longer replacing stolen Obama-for-President signs. “They had enough,” he said. “It’s worrying my wife. She says, ‘Get out of the whole business’ -- but, that’s my right.” Howell said, “It’s very disturbing for people to do this. It’s frightening if it’s a race thing.” However, in a wider context, city-wide sign tampering also has targeted supporters of presidential candidate John McCain, of Prop. 8 on gay marriage and Measure 7 on renewable energy, according to Heichlinger and Howell. Greenwood said he’d been taking his sign in at night for weeks after repeated thefts, forgot one recent Sunday evening and awoke to find the sign gone and replaced with a McCain-for-President sign marked “El Dorado County Republican Central Committee.” “That might make you think someone cruising is doing it,” he said. However, the fact that his sign got filched on the one night in weeks it was left out suggested that a resident of the neighborhood is watching his house, Greenwood said. “I’m the only black in this neighborhood,” he said. At Fair Oaks Boulevard and Garfield Avenue in Sacramento Oct. 13, vandals reportedly painted “KKK” and “white power” over a group of Obama signs. And the latest Luna Circle sign theft came just before the Sacramento County Republican Central Committee Oct. 14 removed from its official Web site the phrase “Waterboard Barack Obama” printed around a U.S. flag. The urging to torture a presidential candidate appeared below a reference to Osama bin Laden that said, “The only difference between Obama and Osama is BS.” McCain currently is distancing himself from a wave of hate speech generated nationally among some of his supporters. Howell Oct. 14 urged all candidates, including local ones, and all campaign supporters to obey all laws -- right down to not putting any “Me for City Council” signs on city property. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com