06/13/2005 North Haven budget signs vandalized Ann DeMatteo , Assistant Metro Editor
NORTH HAVEN — Emotions in the town’s budget battle ran as high as the heat over the weekend, when police were asked to investigate missing signs that addressed Tuesday’s budget referendum.
First Selectman Kevin Kopetz on Sunday said that such acts of vandalism will not be tolerated.
"I was most upset upon learning of the destruction of the signs," Kopetz said, referring to three 4-foot-by-8-foot plywood signs that were vandalized on Pool Road and Quinnipiac Avenue Friday night and on Clintonville Road Saturday night.
"Verbal abuse, physical confrontation and the destruction of personal property have absolutely no place in a democratic society based upon the open expression of ideas and opinions. ... Such destruction will not be tolerated, and our police will be investigating this matter."
The people who are leading the charge against the $70.36 million budget have two other large plywood signs, one on Maple Avenue and one on Hartford Turnpike, that have not been vandalized. The PTA Council and parents in support of the creative learning program have paid for smaller signs that urge "yes" votes, and PTA parents said they’re just starting to hear about their signs being removed.
Ruth Bryant said she drove by the On Broadway restaurant Saturday morning and saw a sign there, then noticed it was missing at night and gave the restaurant owner another one for his lawn.
Bryant and other PTA leaders say they don’t condone the removal of any signs.
"At this point, (there are) more ‘vote yes’ signs up, so I can’t imagine why anybody would want to do that. Those are pretty big signs to move. … It accomplishes nothing except riling the opposition," said Marne Usher, the North Haven PTA Council’s representative to the state PTA.
And Gary Amato and Brian Cummings, two of the people who don’t want the budget passed, said they were upset when unknown individuals knocked down their signs.
Cummings was sitting outside, playing his guitar on his patio Saturday night when he heard a "crunch crunch," and "the people saw me running with a guitar in my hand and they took off."
"They tore it down with such force that one of the stakes to hold the sign tore through it," Cummings said.
"These are dedicated acts of vandalism aimed at abridging the right to free speech. Neither side should condone or tolerate these acts," Cummings said.
"It’s making me sad that emotions are running off," Amato said. "I’m not taking a guess at who it is."
Democratic Selectwoman Janet McCarty said on Sunday she couldn’t condone the actions of people who have taken down the signs, but said people are emotional and passionate about the budget.
#1. "RE: North Haven Budget signs" In response to Reply # 0
Thanks for posting the article. Sounds like a couple of the signs were on private property. The article doesn't give a clue about the specific placement of the other signs. Since these signs would probably fall under the category of point-of-view (or political) signs, they deserve some special protection. However, I suspect that local ordinances would not allow such signs on public property or ROW.
You might use this as an opportunity to write a letter to the editor with the theme that such signs are a form of political speech which is important to the functioning of our democracy. HOWEVER, private property with the permission of the owner, and not public property, is the correct place for these signs.
Of course, such a letter makes sense only if a number of the signs were found on public property.