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Attempt to make political sign ord. reflect state law fails

August 20, 2014 - An attempt to amend Oxford Township's ordinance language concerning political signs so it reflects state law failed last week.

Treasurer Joe Ferrari proposed the ordinance be amended so that political signs located in public right-of-ways must include the identification statements required by the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

"I would like to have signs in public places obeying public laws," he said. "If you want to put a sign for or against anything in a public right-of-way, it should obey the laws of the state."

Under state law, signs for candidates must have an identifying line that starts with the words "paid for by" and ends with the candidate committee's name and address.

The same is true for signs advocating for or against ballot issues. State law dictates the identifying line must begin with the words "paid for with regulated funds" followed by the committee's name and address.

"Our ordinance is silent on this matter, so the township cannot enforce these provisions," Ferrari wrote in an Aug. 4 memo to the township board.

Currently, the only regulations the township has concerning political signs are they must be "removed within 10 days after the election" and they cannot exceed 10 square feet in area and 4 feet in height.

Ferrari noted if the local ordinance was amended to reflect state law, he would not want it to encompass political signs posted on private property.

"That's totally different," he said.

Supervisor Bill Dunn noted there's already steps that can be taken with regard to political signs that are not properly marked.

"You report it to the county and they investigate it," he said.

"By that time, (the election is) already over," replied Ferrari.

Trustee Sue Bellairs said enforcing those identification provisions is up to the county and state, not the township.

"That's because we're silent on it," replied Ferrari.

"Well, we should be," Bellairs said.

Ultimately, Ferrari's proposal was defeated in a 5-2 vote.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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