Electioneering Spells Littering in Baltimore

by Marvin L. 'Doc' Cheatham, Sr.

How can one, in truth, promise citizens that one will help clean-up the neighborhood while at the same time 'trash it?' We are making a mockery of the term 'public servant.'
Every election year the city of Baltimore is defaced by political candidates.

We are not complaining about legally placed lawn and window signs nor legally affixed automobile bumper stickers.

Better yet, we are not even registering a concern about flyers being placed on automobiles and posters and stickers being placed on city property where discriminatory enforcement practices have recently surfaced.

We are lodging a formal complaint, however, against the large number of candidates, both past and present, that continue to affix their campaign literature on vacant and boarded-up houses and properties. Some of these campaign signs go back two, three, four and five elections ago.

These signs are clearly an eye-sore in the neighborhoods where they are being affixed.

How ironic it is that the overwhelming majority of these signs are not being placed in the immediate vicinity where the candidate reside. Better yet, the few signs that do appear in the candidates immediate area, most times, are neatly and legally affixed.

There is an evident disregard and total disrespect for many of the neighborhoods that candidates desire to represent and/or continue to represent.

A signifiant number of these signs appear in areas that are experiencing a plethora of challenges, i.e., an over-abundance of liquor stores, daily street-corner drug sales and distribution, high levels of violence, large percentages of teen-age pregnancy and school drop-out, etc.

Please don't let a candidate loose because most times the signs will have to be blown down by wind, rain, snow or fire before they come down.

Can we stand to see these signs continuing to be up for 14 more months—as a financial savings to those candidates that are successful enough to be candidates again in November 2004? Why take a sign down if you can leave them up until the Mayoral General Election?

We must first end the practice of placing signs on boarded-up and vacant houses and properties. Second, we must legislate stiff fines and subsequent penalties for those candidates cited for such.

The city should publish a listing of those individuals and/or organizations that continue to 'trash' our city and violate its laws by doing such.

We have city and state officials, right now, that still have signs-up when they ran for elective office, years ago.

Why is it that those that are faced with the most challenges of life are disregarded and disrespected by the very people, elected officials and potentials, that are supposed to protect, represent, uplift, and assist them?

How can one, in truth, promise citizens that one will help clean-up the neighborhood while at the same time 'trash it?' We are making a mockery of the term 'public servant.'

Then we wonder why some people don't vote.

Marvin L. 'Doc' Cheatham, Sr. is president of the Baltimore Chapter of the Southern Christian Leaderhip Conference. He can be reached at 410/962-2931 or 410/669-5601.

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This story was published on September 16, 2003.