Signs of the Nov. 8 election are everywhere, and they promise to get even more plentiful in the coming weeks.
That presents a dilemma for Christine Allen, Mayor Scott Avedisian’s campaign manager. In an interview Tuesday, she claimed a number of Richard Corrente signs are on city property and should be removed, but if she files a complaint with the city and city workers remove the signs, the Democratic candidate will cry that Avedisian is using his position to benefit himself.
“[Avedisian is] in a no-win situation there,” Allen said.
That hasn’t stopped Allen from filing a complaint with the state Department of Transportation about Corrente signs on state property.
Meanwhile, there appears to be a virtual free-for-all on the placement of political signs with them popping up all over the city. It promises to get even more cluttered.
“We just got more today,” Corrente said from his headquarters on Warwick Avenue. He gave his sign count at 50 “fat boys,” signs measuring four-by-four feet; 200 “little boys” at two-by-two feet; and 300 “baby boys” at one-by-two feet. In addition, Corrente has “little itty-bitty boys” that resemble a Rhode Island license plate with his name and a yellow November sticker in one corner.
When informed of Allen’s allegations, Corrente’s initial response was, “that’s like calling the kettle black.” He said some Avedisian signs are on city or state property, but he didn’t identify where. He said in seeking to find locations for his signs, businesses and homeowners have turned him down fearing retaliation from the mayor.
“You’ve heard the words extortion and retaliation,” he said. “People have no choice but to put up Avedisian signs.”
Allen said the campaign has 50 large and 450 small Avedisian signs.
As for the indiscriminate placement of his signs, Corrente said he has permission from property owners “99 percent of the time.” He said he finds people are receptive to his requests to put up a sign and his campaign.
“I’m an outspoken salesperson,” he said. He said his signs are “immediately taken down” should a property owner call and complain. He said occasionally a husband or wife will not have communicated with each other and were unaware approval was granted.
As for claims of extortion, Avedisian said in an email, “Once again, charges and no proof…Corrente needs to stop his foolishness.”
Al DeCorte, director and building official for the city, was unaware of any complaints over signs. He pointed out that an outline of city ordinances as to when political signs can be erected and warnings on their placement so as not to obstruct views of traffic were distributed to all declared candidates. He is uncertain as to how he might follow up on a complaint, pointing out that the courts have struck down efforts to have political signs removed on the basis of First Amendment rights. Also, he noted, the department would need to ascertain the owner of the property where the sign is erected and whether approval had been granted.
There does appear to be a bit of sign frenzy, too, as Corrente admits.
“If it’s a boarded up house with 12 signs,” he said, “well, guess what, there’s going to be 13 of them.”
Corrente said September has been a month to get out his signs and he will devote October to meeting and greeting voters – “belly-button to belly-button.” He expects to be walking door to door with Democratic candidates.
Allen said Avedisian would also be out walking. She said about 250 people attended Avedisian’s fundraiser at Iggy’s Boardwalk Monday night. Another fundraiser is planned for Oct. 24 at Harbor Lights and a rally at headquarters on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m.
She said the campaign sent letters to all veterans in September highlighting efforts the administration has made on their behalf. A letter addressed to seniors will go out this month outlining city services available to them. She said the mayor would also host chowder events at seven senior citizen complexes in the coming weeks.
As for her complaint to the DOT, Allen said she was told the state would inform Corrente to remove his signs from state property and if not removed they would be taken down.