KSLA INVESTIGATES: Candidates violating city ordinances by putting campaign signs in public rights-of-way
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - With Election Day coming up on Nov. 8, one thing is certain: political signs with candidates’ faces and slogans are everywhere. But did you know there are city ordinances in place meant to keep campaigns from posting those signs in certain public spaces? However, a lot of political campaigns are ignoring the rules.
Whether it’s the office of the mayor, senator, city council, or school board, drive almost anywhere in Shreveport right now, and you’re certain to catch sight of political signs promoting a host of candidates pleading for your vote. While these campaign placards can easily blend into the background eventually, there’s one man in town focused on these political signs: Jarvis Morgan.
Morgan is a superintendent for the Department of Public Works.
“We have signs for years of political seasons,” Morgan said.
His office is responsible for collecting the growing number of political signs found to be in violation of the city’s development code.
“Far as political signs, you cannot put political signs in the city right-of-way,” he said.
According to Morgan, several times a week, crews with the Department of Public Works go out and remove signs illegally placed in public rights-of-way. A couple dozen signs have been picked up in just the past few days.
“We have removed a lot, but we have added more to this political season,” Morgan said.
Every election season, candidates running for office get a letter with a fact sheet explaining the legal dos and don’ts of placing political signs. The letter tells candidates to give campaign workers a copy of the sign ordinance as well. One thing the letter highlights is that political signs shall not be placed in public rights-of-way, meaning they cannot be placed in grassy strips between the sidewalk and the street, in the median of divided roadways, or at intersections. But despite the clear instructions, many campaigns are breaking the rules.
“We will pick up signs every day. Yes sir, every day,” Morgan said when asked how often his crews collect signs.
Morgan says most of the offending signs are found in the South Highlands area. Driving around that neighborhood, near Bert Kouns and Walker Road, KSLA found multiple political signs in public rights-of-way, less than two days after the Dept. of Publics Works swept the area. That didn’t surprise Morgan one bit...
“I just know we do our job and are supposed to pick it up,” he said.
But the issue may frustrate some residents because there’s no penalty for violating the city ordinance, meaning whenever political signs get placed in public rights-of-way, and the Dept. of Public Works gets called to pick them up, city taxpayers foot the bill, not the campaigns responsible for the signs.
One more thing Morgan points out that may frustrate city taxpayers is after Election Day, campaigns are supposed to go around and pick up all of their campaign signs, whether they’re in public rights-of-way or not, but Morgan says hundreds of signs will be left all over the city, and in the end, it’s city workers who are once again picking up the signs to keep the city clean at the expense of the taxpayer.
Anyone who sees a political sign illegally placed in a public right-of-way can report it and and ask to have it removed. Just call the Dept. of Public Works, the Metropolitan Planning Commission, or the Shreveport Police Department.
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