Fallout continues over SJ campaign signs

October 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the election around the corner, a San Jose city councilman has suddenly found himself in the news in a way he never intended. He got caught pulling up campaign signs against a ballot measure that he supports.

A YouTube video showed San Jose councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio turning over to police four "No on V" campaign signs on Saturday. He was spotted removing one of them from a landscaped area next to a shopping center on Curtner Avenue.

"I saw Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio with his car parked, his trunk up, and walk over and pull out a lawn sign off of private property," campaign consultant Tom Saggau said.

The incident takes on political overtones because Saggau is a consultant to the "No on V" campaign and Oliverio is backing "Yes on V."

Measure V would change how arbitration is done between the city and public safety unions. At issue is whether the sign was on public or private property because campaign signs are not allowed on public property.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed weighed in on Monday and said it's OK for citizens to remove illegal signs.

"Our municipal code allows volunteers to take them down on behalf of the city," he said.

"What was disappointing to me is people I respect, people I've known for a long time using actions of intimidation and bullying," Oliverio said.

The incident has alerted residents of the fine points of the law.

"Any citizen should have done that if it was public property because the law is you cannot campaign on the public property," Rex Painter said.

Except that one of the signs in front of Painter's house is on the green strip -- a public utility easement and therefore, public property. He quickly moved the sign.

"If they take down an illegal sign, make sure you have a picture of it and delivery it to our code compliance department," Reed said.

Campaign veterans make an interesting observation about signs. Whether they are put in illegally in a green strip or legally on private property, they tend to disappear in two weeks, unless it's near a school where they disappear in one week.


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