Guam – It is political season and with it comes a blizzard of campaign signs posted along the roadways throughout the island. And again this year, as in years past, the signs have attracted criticism for being posted in violation of the law.
Guam law mandates several restrictions on the posting of political signs but many of these are simply not followed.
For example: “No political sign may be erected or posted upon the shoulder of any roadway unless it is eight feet from the paved portion of the roadway and in such a manner that would not impeded traffic or a driver’s visibility or erected upon any traffic median strip sidewalk road or driveway.”
PNC found that many signs were indeed placed too close to the road. In fact according to our measurements a lot of signs do not meet the 8 foot requirement from the pavement. Two examples are Adonis Mendiola and Tony Ada’s signs along Marine Drive.
Another sign that appears to be breaking the rules is Dennis Rodriguez Jr.’s sign. It is placed in this median along what is called the Da’ok strip. This strip is regulated by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Guam law says: “No political signs may be posted upon any public park within the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Public Works, or the village mayors.”
Another violation we came across is around intersections. According to Guam law: “No political sign may be erected or posted within one hundred (100) feet of any intersection.” According to our measurements in the Hagatna Paseo intersection Senator Frank Blas Jr. who is running for congress and Tony Ada’s signs did not appear to meet this 100 foot requirement.
It seems that no one is really following the laws in fact we found that almost all of the candidates running for office this year had at least one or two signs that were not in compliance with Guam law. So what is DPW doing about it? “We’re short staffed so we do appreciate the public calling in and alerting us to it and so when we are alerted we’ll send the staff out to take a look and investigate it and if we determine that the political sign is in fact violating the law we give the violator a call,” said DPW Deputy Director Carl Dominguez adding, “In any event the violator has 48 hours to comply and if they don’t comply we the DPW has the right or the mayor has the right to physically remove the sign and confiscate it.”
While it seems like no one is really following the law there are those who believe Guam’s laws aren’t strict enough. Jeff Pleadwell the owner of Jeff’s Pirates cove in Ipan is frustrated with the political signs that are near his business. “Yes this area here on Rt. 4 is a very dangerous slippery area I don’t recommend any political signs be put here unless they are down there by the bridge I think they should be way off the road,” said Pleadwell. The private business owner has staff who mow and maintain the grass along the shoulders of the road near his business.”People come and put them up they don’t ask me they don’t ask Joe Shimizu who owns the land so it’s not really good to just throw up a sign and before you had a little note on there when I ran for office that had your treasurer and you had to have your address and your phone number, now they don’t even have phone numbers so I don’t even know who to call and this one down here in the corner is very very dangerous even these telephone polls are like an attraction for cars. I put up these floats to stop people from hitting them direct,” said Pleadwell. He says the signs, which we measured to be 8 feet or more from the road, are still a major distraction to drivers.
“In the last two months there’s been six cars go off the road here and also down here I can see on my way here just now where somebody go off Rt. 4 just before CCP so these roads that are made of coral they are very slippery they are very dangerous and the last thing they need is anything close to them or any distractions,” said Pleadwell.
PNC drove around the Hagatna, Anigua, Asan, Yona, Ipan and Tamuning areas and found that many of the candidates with signs in those villages had at least one sign in at least one of the villages that was not in compliance. The only place where there didn’t seem to be any problems with political signs was down in Tumon along the hotel strip where there are none.