On the Right Lane: Signs of the times

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“Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”
                                                                                      President Ronald Reagan

The Windham town councilors held a meeting Oct. 16 that was a mixture of a formal meeting and a council workshop. Does anyone remember years ago when people complained that they couldn’t address their concerns to the Windham councilors during a workshop? During a formal meeting there is an agenda item that allows the public to address the councilors on anything that is not on the agenda. After that, the public can come up and speak at the podium only on the particular agenda item at that time. During workshops, public comment is being allowed after the council discussion on that item only. I believe that formal and workshop meetings should not be combined, but if such a meeting has to be held,  there should be a period where citizens can address any item not on the agenda for that night.

One of the discussion items during the workshop portion of the Oct. 16 meeting was about Windham’s sign ordinance and recent changes enacted by the Maine Legislature. Most people I know generally believe that signs erected by political candidates either during the primary elections in June or for Election Day in November really don’t influence them. Many people believe those campaign signs are nothing more than political pollution, which is something that appears to increase every year. Yes, I have had many of those same signs on my property and for the most part as long as I am asked I am fine with it. Truthfully, most people who know me already know how I am going to vote, but I have a strong belief in the power of freedom of speech as I spent 20 years in the military where those freedoms are not always enjoyed.

I am sure many noticed that the Windham’s rotary, roundabout, traffic circle or whatever one wants to call it is now bare of all signs, period. One change mandated by the new legislation about political signs requires similar political signs be at least 30 feet apart on a public way. I was hoping for 300 feet. MDOT now has the responsibility of ensuring those political signs do not obstruct the public’s view while driving. In other words, political signs should never be a hazard that blocks the view of drivers and thus become a safety issue. That sounds all fine and dandy, but what scares me is the actual interpretation of that very same law. What’s a safety hazard to one person is not necessarily a hazard to the next person, so I hope that there is some type of appeal process although I seriously have to doubt it.

I jokingly state that because it is amazing how each individual can interpret a law,  and if politics comes into play I can only imagine it being a vendetta for an individual who dislikes a particular candidate. Politics of today has become an absolute down and dirty game and I don’t see any proof that would ensure vendettas couldn’t happen, even in Maine. I wouldn’t expect such a thing to happen on a grand scale of any type, but we all know that someone will undoubtedly engage in unethical behavior. However, at this point I will state that the cost of all of those signs puts a whole lot of money into the economy and hopefully most of it stays in Maine. I looked online for the cost of signs of those type and was astounded by how much cheaper they were compared to those made in municipalities around Windham.

Now is the time for another improvement when it comes to elections and that’s the advertisements that flood our televisions day and night. I have the opinion that the ones from funny money from away are close to or actually are lies that we are supposed to believe.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham has phone system that eliminates almost all unwanted calls and now wants one for his television.