You gotta love politics.
OK. No you don't. It's perfectly fine to hate politics. And this time of year is when it really gets, well, hateable.
Columbia County's sign ordinance has a portion pertaining to political signs. It says that candidates can't put them out until 60 days before the election. That's why, just after May 20, signs popped up like toadstools after a spring rain.
The primary election is July 20, see, and most local elections will be decided then. There's nothing to look forward to in November for candidates running for county commissioner or chief magistrate or sheriff.
Those candidates, then, will compress their campaign activities into the next six weeks. It reminds me of a kayaking trip last weekend, when the guide described how dolphins feed during low tide because there are the same number of fish compacted into creeks.
So the next six weeks are a feeding frenzy of politics, with some candidates spending all their money in the run-up to July 20.
Which explains all those signs, the ubiquitous symbols of political activity.
Many of them are also illegal because they're using public property. The Georgia Department of Transportation this week said it intends to enforce prohibitions against placing signs on state highway rights-of-way.
"As part of our routine maintenance work on state routes and Interstates, DOT will remove any and all signs from our rights of way," said DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl in a Monday press release. The signs will be held hostage in a DOT facility until the candidate on the sign agrees to pick up at least a mile of roadside litter per sign collected.
Well, not really -- but wouldn't that be great? Instead, the DOT allows the candidates to pick them up, as does Columbia County with signs collected from county road rights-of-way.
Linnenkohl's press release points out at posting campaign signs on state highways is a misdemeanor. What it doesn't say is that no one is ever prosecuted for violating the law.
That's too bad. While it may be difficult to figure out just who puts an individual sign on the roadside, the candidates must be responsible for their proper placement. They should police it accordingly -- or police the roadsides for trash if they don't.
If we could see a few politicians in orange vests cleaning up the roadways, maybe that would cut down on the clutter.
So, is that a yes or no?
There's plenty of clutter in a recent series of communications with Gov. Sonny Perdue's office.
State Sen. Joey Brush, in announcing he re-election, included a supportive statement from Perdue regarding his role as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Brush has since characterized that statement as an "endorsement" or a "strong endorsement" (his words) of his candidacy.
One of the governor's press people a couple of weeks ago sent out a tongue-in-cheek "endorsement" letter supporting the American Idol contestant from Georgia. In it, the note said the governor didn't usually offer endorsements.
So I asked: Is the governor endorsing Brush?
The governor's political operatives then got involved, with Derrick Dickey, the governor's deputy director of communications explaining that the American Idol "endorsement" came "from someone who does not serve as a spokesman for the governor."
Dickey reiterated the governor's policy of avoiding outright endorsements in contested Republican primaries, while noting Perdue's "appreciation" for Brush. When asked if it is then inaccurate, as Brush claims, to characterize the governor's message as a formal endorsement, Dickey would only say "I will allow you and Sen. Brush room to interpret my words as you wish."
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.