Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Minority Voter Suppression?

Well, it's election time in Wilmer and already the (incumbent) City Administration is cracking down on political signs. Fire Chief Marcus Smith attended the TAFYC sponsored Voter Registration Drive to enforce the City's sign codes. Fortunately, the citizens were prepared with an actual copy of the codified ordinances which detail the full scope of the ordinance and it's exceptions (including political signage).

In an effort to register minority voters in time for the May elections, TAFYC sponsored a voter registration drive at River Oaks Mobile Home Park. There were hot dogs and refreshments offered to the public and a certified voter registrar was onsite. Evidently, the City's code enforcement csar, Marcus Smith received a complaint about an illegal sign and in response demanded that the sign be removed. After several concerned citizens intervened, Chief Smith decided to let the sign remain for the additional 90 minutes until the event was over. No citations were written at the time.

Good call on Chief Smith's part, but we must wonder who complained?
Is it possible that Chief Smith was acting on his own?
Who knew that the code enforcement office was open on a Saturday?
Or how to contact the code enforcement officer outside business hours?
Who would have an interest in restricting minority voters from participating in a local election?
Does this incident need to be investigated by the USDOJ as Texas remains on the list of states under scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

The obvious answer is that it's political. Politics as usual in Wilmer Texas. But we will not know for sure until the records of that call are released under the Texas Public Information Act. Or a government entity conducts and inquiry or investigation.


Anonymous said...

As usual Mr. Aldridge fails to investigate the facts before he posts his self serving "editorials"

There is no "Crack Down" on political signs. The sign ordinance adresses all signs, political or otherwise.
CEO Smith, when asked for a copy of the current sign ordinance by persons attending the event, actually returned to his office and printed copies of the ordinance for anyone that requested one. No one was "prepared" with an actual copy of the ordinace until it was provided to them by the CEO.
CEO Smith did not receive a complaint about the sign. The contact with the owner of the sign was self initiated. As are most of the Code Enforcement actions in all progressive towns and cities.
Code Enforcement, like the Fire Department, is available when it is needed. Most of the illegal, non-permitted construction occurs on the weekends because of the belief that Code Enforcement is "not open" on the weekend. It is open. Saturday, Sunday and Holidays.
CEO Smith was initially contacted by a citizen that actually came by his house and knocked on his door. The complaint was regarding a situation on Pleasant Run Rd. The complaint was investigated and determined that there was no additional action needed.
Returning from that investigation the large banner sign with balloons attached was observed in the right of way in front of 1605 Millers Ferry Rd.
A sign in the right of way. Illegal.
Non permitted banner sign. Illegal.
Balloons attached to ANY sign. Illegal.
After speaking to the owner of the sign and being made aware that it was a voter registration drive that was for the benefit of the citizens of Wilmer, CEO Smith, at his own discretion, then allowed the sign to remain until the event concluded.

I realize that the real facts of the issue doesn't help your "cause" Mr. Aldridge but I believe as a news medium for the citizens of Wilmer the publication of the facts is the responsibilty of any professional journalist. That being said, I appreciate you publishing this information Mr. Aldridge..

Editor Publisher said...

Well stated CEO Smith, this is the kind of rebuttal I like to see. One small correction: the actual codified ordinances were onsite upon your return and the material that you returned was not in fact a copy of the ordinance, those few pages were a summary of some of the restrictions and exceptions contained in the ordinance. The codified ordinances span more than 300 pages and contain all of the details of all the enforceable ordinances we know as "wilmer law".

I have never held myself or this blog as professional journalism, but hey, thanks for the compliment!