Don’t Vote for Tara Flanagan for Judge (Illegal Campaign Signs)

By , May 6, 2012

I just had a fascinating conversation with Tara Flanagan, who is a candidate for Superior Court Judge in Alameda County. After I informed her that her campaign signs were posted illegally on public property, she demurred and dissembled.

First, she asserted that I should not talk with her about this, but instead I should talk to her “consultant firm,” which posted the signs (like most persons accused of any crime, she sought to shift responsibility to others).

When I pointed out how bad this looked in a candidate for judge, she said that she’d personally spoken with someone at the City of Hayward who told her it was OK (ignorance of the law, or misinformation or a misunderstanding, is an excuse).

She also noted that she’s received no complaints from municipalities (it’s not illegal unless you’re caught).

I wrote about this two years ago, in the last major campaign cycle (http://www.markwelchblog.com/2010/10/09/illegally-posted-campaign-signs/), when I heard the same excuses from other candidates. And the rule is the same as it’s ever been: the firms hired to post signs for candidates will do anything they think is in their interest, as long as they can do it, regardless of the law. And the candidates pretend that they believe that their political consultants won’t break the law.

I won’t vote for Tara Flanagan, because clearly she doesn’t respect the law nor accept responsibility for her own actions; I don’t want such a person to serve in any elected office, but certainly not as a Superior Court Judge!

The picture below is captured from Tara Flanagan’s campaign Facebook page; I’ve blacked out sections that included other people’s pictures and comments. 

 

Below is the Google Maps Street View for the vacant lot at 166th Ave @ E. 14th St. in Ashland (unincorporated San Leandro) where another Flanagan sign is now posted (it’s not in this picture), despite (or perhaps because of) the sign clearly indicating that the lot is owned by Alameda County.

10 Responses to “Don’t Vote for Tara Flanagan for Judge (Illegal Campaign Signs)”

  1. Mark Welch says:

    Today I noticed two illegal campaign signs posted by Pete Stark and Chris Pareja on public (state-owned) property at the end of our street (Mission Blvd @ Valle Vista Ave). I’ve cut down both signs.

    From that location, I can also see signs for both Tara Flanagan and Eric Swalwell, on private land (hopefully with the owners’ permission).

  2. Jean Oakley says:

    Thanks for calling out Flanagan!

  3. Alan says:

    Another reason to not vote for her; I just received a robo-call (automatic dialer) that was not introduced by a person. This is illegal in California for purposes such as political messages. Another example that she does not understand what is legal and what is not. By the way, you can complain about such calls to the California Public Utilities Commission.

  4. Robert says:

    I’m wondering why you’re choosing to lambaste Flanagan when the streets, walls & fences throught the county are littered with campaign signs.

  5. Mark Welch says:

    Robert, I “lambasted” Flanagan because she was the earliest to post signs on public property in the current primary election cycle (I posted this after I saw her signs, before Pete Stark and so many others littered the city with their signs). In the 2010 election cycle, I “lambasted” other candidates (http://www.markwelchblog.com/2010/10/09/illegally-posted-campaign-signs/).

    As a candidate for judge, Flanagan should be held to a high standard regarding respect for the law. It certainly doesn’t help that she’s proudly posted pictures of illegally-posted campaign signs on her Facebook page.

    The law allows candidates to post campaign signs on private property, with the owner’s permission. Of course, many candidates post signs on private property without the owner’s permission, and also on public property, knowing that the worst reaction will be the owner or city staff (or I) will tear down the signs. I don’t know which private owners gave permission, but I know that campaign signs can never legally be posted on public property.

    Despite the initial illegal conduct, if Flanagan’s response had been to research the law and then take down her illegal signs, I would have praised her for doing so and endorsed her for this office. Instead, her response was first to deflect responsibility to others, then to claim ignorance of the law, and finally to just ignore all complaints. This isn’t acceptable conduct for someone seeking to serve the public as a judge!

    In many locations, there is just one illegal campaign sign (usually Flanagan’s or Stark’s). Even today, at the vacant lot at 166th @ E. 14th, I saw only two signs posted: one a huge sign identifying the property as owned by Alameda County, and the other a smaller campaign sign for Flanagan (I’ve appended the Google Maps picture of that location at the end of the blog post above, although it was taken before the Flanagan sign was posted there).

    Note that some other candidates do respect the law by posting signs only on private property where they’ve obtained the permission of the property owner, and in past elections I’ve contacted candidates who immediately got in their cars (once on bicycle) and went to remove the signs that were posted illegally. More often, candidates ignore all complaints, forcing overworked city staff to make “sign sweeps” to take down campaign signs illegally posted on public property.

    Since I’m also angry about Pete Stark’s illegal signs, out of fairness I’ve also looked for his opponents’ signs. I saw one Pareja sign along with Stark’s on public property at the end of my street (I tore down both), but I haven’t noticed any other Pareja signs, and although I’ve noticed some Swalwell signs, I haven’t identified any on public property. (I haven’t noticed any campaign signs for either of Flanagan’s opponents.)

    After city staff (in response to my complaints) took down one of Stark’s illegal signs on public property on the corner of Huntwood @ Industrial, Stark’s campaign staff posted a new sign in the same exact location within 24 hours.

  6. Silvia T. says:

    Flanagan’s signs are all over San Pablo Avenue. Why hasn’t Berkeley taken them down? They are on every light-pole on every street!

  7. Mark Welch says:

    Silvia, cities can’t afford to pay staff to rove around the city, looking for illegal signs or graffiti. You need to report them, and eventually most cities will follow up.

  8. Mark Welch says:

    Zennie, it’s you who are incorrect.

    You’re right that the CalTrans candidate letter only refers to signs near state highways, not to other public property. I’ve pointed out to CalTrans (in 2010) that some candidates have claimed that they misunderstood the letter as providing a complete list of excluded locations (though that’s not a reasonable interpretation), and I’ve asked CalTrans to change the letter. They haven’t responded on that issue (though they have responded to dozens of my other complaints, frequently removing signs from state property and even tearing down a nuisance building that they owned in my neighborhood).

    The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is surely an expert on election procedures, but not on sign law. Try following your logic: you quote the registrar as acknowledging that it’s illegal to post campaign signs on City Hall, and that “individual civic laws apply.” The fact that he says he’s not heard of such a law, though surprising, isn’t evidence that no such law exists.

    Have you made any effort to research the issue, and look for laws or ordinances? Apparently not, because when I searched for “hayward sign ordinance” I immediately found the city’s ordinance and its language prohibiting signs on all public property.

    I can understand that many people might be unaware of local ordinances, especially in cities where they don’t reside.

    But doesn’t common sense suggest to you that it ought to be illegal for people to post signs on public property, and if you decide that posting signs on public property is something you want to do, doesn’t it make sense that you should research the law on the topic?

    Of course you’ve posted this less than 24 hours before the election, and I don’t have time right now to dig out notes or re-do the complete research regarding state and local laws. But here’s Hayward’s municipal code:

    Hayward: “SEC. 10-7.300 GENERAL REGULATIONS. (a) The following regulations shall apply to all signs in all districts within the city. No sign may be placed in any of the following areas: … (2) On any public property”
    http://www.hayward-ca.gov/municipal/HMCWEB/SignRegulations.pdf

    See also http://www.bayeast.org/sign_ordinances

  9. victim, blamed says:

    There are a lot of red-flag valid reasons her name should never have been on that ballot. i was firsthand witness to some brutal miscarriage of justice, over the course of four years lost, along with all my assets, as I sought protection from… i got to know the family courts more intimately than anyone ever should. Letter and practice of law are not even second cousins twice removed; i get that, now. But I’m pretty sure her endorsement to the bench was sought and gained in this absurd obscene context, too.Tara Flanagan bullied her way onto both my petition for protection from domestic violence, after serial drug assisted aggravated sexual assaults, and more unthinkables, then my ex-husband’s suit against me, both 11th hour efforts which removed me from access and participation, and cost me everything on top of flouted orders in re assets and support. I liked her better as a rugby star than as unsought $450;hr associate counsel: no champion of justice, just an average everyday opportunistic ego rampaging over earnest participants in civilized matters on the taxpayer’s dime. Nice to see someone noticed something amiss, anyway.

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