July 23, 2008: Who pays for property destruction?

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To The Editor:
This nation and this state have a long history of free political expression. Signs espousing one view or candidate or another appear at various places and times. These signs are tolerated or celebrated in various jurisdictions in varying manners. In most instances the signs are by the road or attached to utility poles in some fashion. Often they are stapled to a pole. Some particularly favored poles are well filled with staples. In some areas the signs are removed almost as fast as they go up.
What is not tolerated is the permanent defacement of public or private property by signs expressing whatever they do.
Leaving the Village of Margaretville on Bridge Street brings one to a sign for a political candidate that is nothing if not a permanent defacement of public property. This sign is printed on to the concrete retaining wall opposite and slightly to the right of the light at the intersection.
Removing it is impossible without leaving a permanent defacement on the concrete.
Painting over the sign will leave the paint on the concrete available as a new canvas for more graffiti.
Solvents will leave a permanent change in the concrete even if all the painted sign can be removed.
Removing the surface of the concrete will leave a permanent reminder.
Replacing the concrete will leave a permanent change at variance with the surrounding material.
Who pays for the above remediation? We the taxpayers. In addition there would be a cost in increased carbon emissions and potentially dangerous volatile compounds that would be used in the cleanup/repair.
Political signs are an important part of the free speech of this nation. Signs, such as this one, that are posted on public property in a way that makes them a permanent disfigurement of the property are in effect vandalism for which the creator shuns responsibility.

Gordon F. Stevens,
Margaretville