by Ron Gregory
It may be a “sign” of the times.
Or it could be an indication that one Williamson newspaper editor insists on his publication remaining the mouthpiece for a corrupt political faction.
Or it could be that said newspaper editor will be singing “Signs” all the way to a courtroom near you.
That’s just some of the conclusions to be reached after the venerable Williamson Daily News appeared to continue a social media rant today. Actually, according to a local attorney, Editor Kyle Lovern’s cutesy play on words (referring to the song, Signs, by the Five Man Electrical Band while writing about political signs) appears to be an obvious continuation of a Facebook post from a few days ago.
All of this sign uproar, mind you, has been created after Gary Stepp’s truck was photographed beside the courthouse with signs in the rear that do not belong to candidates Stepp allegedly supports. No publication of that photo appeared in the Daily News to confirm its good intentions of reporting “all the news that’s fit to print.” Instead, the News decided to simply re-establish its position as the “Voice of Team Mingo” by joining a separate ruckus.
Under a banner headline, “More political signs stolen,” posted today, Lovern writes about the “one-hit wonder” of 1974, the song “Signs.” Then the editor, without commenting on the illegality of signs on public property (why worry about a little thing like the law, right?), says Mingo is polluted with political signs “erected along every road, in people’s yards, on buildings, trees and on utility poles.” Need I discuss the danger signs and nails on utility poles pose for company workers?
Lovern continues, “However, a second candidate has come forward to … complain about his signs allegedly being stolen. Incumbent House of Delegate (sic) member Justin Marcum (D-Mingo) said he received a call from another candidate saying that two candidates were stealing his and Marcum’s signs on Chattaroy Hollow this past weekend. Marcum drove down that particular road and said he saw the two (who the WDN will not name) removing his signs while they were putting theirs out.”
As an aside, how “particular” that road is must be somewhat debatable. I have seen some shady characters there who I wouldn’t expect to see on a very “particular” road.
Lovern says Marcum is the second candidate to make “this type of report.” I have no idea if “type” is similar to “particular” or what. But one wonders if Don Stevens, who Lovern refers to as the first candidate to complain, actually said he had several of his Magistrate signs stolen, as Lovern reports. If he did, it seems to me (not having nearly the journalism resume that Lovern has), that his accusation is EXACTLY the same as Marcum’s. Somehow, though, it is the same “type.”
Stevens, says Lovern, has offered a $100 reward for the arrest and conviction of anyone stealing his signs. So, too, is Marcum, the story says. Hmmn.
Let me again point this out, just for the hell of it since we know the law is of little consequence in Mingo, if the signs were on public right-of-way, they were ILLEGAL to begin with. You, I and all the hands at the Division of Highways or law enforcement can take them down if we like. If someone has the urge to own 100 metal frames, go out to these polluted highways and get them.
That being said, it would be a crime for someone to take a sign out of a yard or off other personal property. I suppose it is possible one of the two candidates is alleging that happened. Lovern goes on to say Marcum, who he says is the “sitting delegate,” (where he’s sitting is not noted) has filed an “official complaint” with what the Daily News lovingly refers to as the “MCSD,” the acronym for … are you ready now? … the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department. “Stevens said he notified the Secretary of State’s office and Marcum plans to do the same.” Just for the record, a lot of people refer to it as the … stay calm please … “SOS.”
Lovern, who in addition to being a noted journalist is also apparently an attorney, adds, “It’s important to note that stealing or tampering with campaign yard signs is illegal in all 50 states. For the most part they are incorporating theft and vandalism laws.”
What? What the heck (using that in case Mayor Vivian Livingood’s grandchildren are reading just now) does THAT mean? They are “incorporating theft and vandalism laws”? I am wondering, though not much, if Lovern, Esq. could tell us exactly what spot in West Virginia law (forget the other 49 states) identifies a campaign sign as being “incorporated” into theft and vandalism laws.
Sometimes, I have found, it is nice to have SOME idea what the hell (Livingood grandchildren, please ignore) one is writing about in order to do an even pitiful job.
The story concludes with this reassuring message: “If anyone has information about the theft of poltical (sic) signs they may (sic) contact the MCSD office at 304-235-0300. You MAY contact the Sheriff’s Department at that number, but it is not a certainty, says the Daily News.
All of this comes after Marcum posted on Facebook, Friday, that “Went down Chattaroy today only to discover Lonnie Hannah and Jim Harvey taking signs down. Went on down the road and notice (sic) many of mine are gone. When did these two start running for House of Delegates against me?”
The Williamson attorney said, “it doesn’t matter whether the Daily News printed the names or not, it is clear their story is simply a follow-up to that Facebook post. If it says there were two candidates, cites Marcum as a source and repeats basically the same story he posted on Facebook, they may as well have named Lonnie and Jim.”
The lawyer said consultations have been held with Hannah and Harvey “to determine how they want to proceed. First of all, they emphatically deny removing anyone’s signs. Second, they have been libeled and slandered by at least one public official and a newspaper. I think they have several legal remedies available to them.”
Others on the Mingo political scene have said the allegations against Hannah and Harvey are “just smokescreens to cover up for what Gary Stepp did. If Justin Marcum caught Lonnie Hannah and Jim Harvey taking down his signs, as he says on Facebook, can anyone believe he didn’t use his cell phone to take a picture of them? Gary Stepp’s truck and those signs are as clear as a bell in pictures. But Justin didn’t at least take a picture? Come on now.”
The saga will undoubtedly continue through election day while Lovern imagines the strains of “Signs” in his flashback mind.
* * * * * *
As everyone knows, I hate to ask embarrassing questions, but is the sign fiasco not yet another reason to wonder about Marcum’s role as Assistant Prosecutor? If he actually saw the two candidates illegally removing someone’s signs, is he not obligated to report the matter to his boss, Teresa “Love the Children; Hate the Child” Maynard? Or, perhaps, present it to a grand jury immediately so the crime spree can stop?
And doesn’t Marcum, Maynard and the Sheriff’s Department … uh oh, I forgot, the MCSD … work directly together? So, if Marcum presented his complaint to the Sherif … I mean, MCSD, is he not essentially reporting it to himself?
With all that said, a MCSD (NOW I got it. But wait, is it “a” MCSD or “an” MCSD? I’m confused) source said late Tuesday that no report had been filed with the … let’s see … MCSD or is it MCDS or maybe CMSD? Hmmn. So, where does all this stand? Crime apparently is rampant in Mingo County, but the MCSD is on it … or not … or???
* * * * * *
Your comments, story ideas, rumors and reports of runaway sign theft in your neighborhood are always welcome. Use my email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185. By the way, does anyone know what those metal sign frames go for? I do. Want to buy some … cheap?