Tag: political signs

City of Conway’s Political Sign Debacle

The City of Conway administration department is in the midst of a debacle of its own creation because of the various avenues it has pursued in enforcing its city ordinance with respect to the improper placement of political signs.
It began approximately one year ago when the city decided to take a stronger stand against political signs being placed in the public rights of way in the city and modifications were made to the City of Conway Unified Development Ordinance.
When city election season came around shortly thereafter, candidate signs that were in the rights of way were collected by city employees. However, even though the new ordinance allowed the city to issue misdemeanor summonses for this offense, none were issued to any of the candidates for city council office.
When the local and state primary season began last spring, there was a change of attitude toward the steps the city would take against improper placement of signs.
The situation could not have been handled any worse by city administrators if they intentionally tried to make a debacle of this new enforcement.
During the spring primary season, city workers collected improperly placed signs and the city issued summonses to approximately 18 candidates for office with a trial date in municipal court and threat of “a fine of up to $1,100 or 30 days in jail” printed on each summons for the misdemeanor offense.
State law prohibits municipal judges from hearing criminal cases for offenses with fines of over $500, but that didn’t stop city officials from issuing the summonses.

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Conway’s War Against Political Signs Spirals out of Control

Government officials in Conway have increased their war on political signs during this primary campaign season to a point that it has spiraled out of control.
Grand Strand Daily has learned that summonses with potential $1,000 fines, for alleged illegally placed campaign signs, have been issued to at least several more candidates in current primary races.
Most interesting is the June 13, 2021 date on the summonses for these cases to be heard in Conway City Court. That date is one day before primary election voting will take place at the polls.
Nothing in Horry County politics happens in a vacuum. One must wonder if certain Conway city government officials are attempting to influence the outcome of some of the races in the June 14th primaries?
Two weeks ago, GSD ran a story on this issue. At that time, blame for a summons and fine issued to one candidate was put at the feet of Conway City Administrator Adam Emrick due to prior statements he had made during a meeting of Conway City Council.
In the interim, several city council members have stated that candidates would be allowed to pick up their confiscated signs and no fines would be collected. However, with the escalation in the issuance of summonses, that does not now appear to be the case and city council members are now complicit for not doing anything to stop the problem.
Who is setting policy here, Conway City Council or Emrick?

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Adam Emrick Sign Czar

An apparently out of control city administrator in Conway may be starting a war over political signs that he cannot win.
According to a story in the Horry Independent last week, Conway city employees collected “more than 400 political signs” that were allegedly placed in locations they are not allowed.
Emrick reportedly told Conway City Council members last week he is tired of the great expense to the city of picking up political signs placed in the wrong place. What Emrick is apparently talking about here is signs placed in public rights of way.
The alleged illegally placed signs have been removed and placed in a city warehouse rather than being destroyed, according to the story.
However, Emrick told city council members he is ready to impose fines of up to $1,100 per sign, supposedly allowed by city ordinance, when someone comes to pick up the signs from the warehouse, according to the story.
Emrick also has a plan to bill the candidates whose signs have been picked up, according to the story.
As a point of reference, Horry County Government employees also pick up political signs that are placed in public rights of way. Those signs are disposed of in a county dumpster and candidates are free to remove their signs from the dumpster if they choose.
What Emrick proposed to city council is government overreach at an extreme level. One could call it a violation of the 14th Amendment protections of the U.S. Constitution with respect to due process.

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Bogus Charges of Stealing Political Signs Already Begun

Even the coronavirus scare can’t stop primary campaign silly season from engulfing Horry County with what seems to be biennial but bogus accusations of political signs being stolen.

A Facebook post yesterday by the wife of one candidate in Horry County was complaining about somebody “stealing” her husband’s campaign signs.

The post was complete with verbiage about how much planning went into the placement of the signs and how the campaign was diligently following the law and not placing signs in the right of way. It even went so far as to quote the Commandment “Thou shalt not steal”.

Every campaign cycle we hear about signs being stolen with the onus attempting to at least infer that someone from the opponent’s camp is responsible. Through my experience, at least 99% of the complaints of sign stealing are wrong.

Political signs are not allowed in rights of way or on other public property. Many candidates really do not know what constitutes a right of way and where all public property is located.

The various government agencies in the county have code enforcement departments that will remove signs from restricted areas and dispose of them as needed.

The picture accompanying this article was taken at a county dumpster Wednesday evening. It is clear that political signs from several candidates, the candidate whose wife was complaining of stolen signs included, as well as various other signs of the type routinely placed along roads. The signs were picked up by county workers because their placement was in violation of county code.

The husband is a political novice so we have to give a small bit of leeway for ignorance. However, I would suggest, before you go publically accusing people of stealing your signs, you go down to the county dumpster and retrieve them, then pick up a copy of the county code for sign placement so you will, in fact, be in compliance with the county ordinance.