Good people trying to do good things . . .
Let me tell you a story.
A couple of weeks ago, Montgomery County Councilman Mark Smith sat on a stage at Crawfordsville High School. He was one of three up there for a political debate. One of the comments Smith made was that we don’t need “Washington-style politics” in Montgomery County.
Last week, he said it again, adding “but that’s exactly what we got.”
He’s talking about a large no wind farm sign that was taken off his property last week. According to Smith, Rich Watkins and Linda Schoen, members of the anti-wind farm group, came on Smith’s land, dug the sign up and took it.
“It was broad daylight,” he said. “That’s pretty blatant. It’s trespassing.”
Neither Watkins nor Schoen dispute that they were there or that they took the sign. Whether or not it was trespassing is a different story.
“We repossessed that sign for the owner.” Watkins explained. “I know a little bit about repossessions. I don’t have any qualms on the trespassing claim. It was a repossession.”
Schoen said that the location mattered.
“If it was at Mark’s house or quite a ways (inside the property line), no, we wouldn’t. But it was right there by the road.”
Watkins and Schoen both said the sign is owned by a third party and that they had every right to take it back.
A logical question is, why would they? It would seem the anti-wind farm group could use all the help they can get and Smith sits on the county council. He’s said all along that he’s not in favor of wind turbines being built in this county. He said it at the debate. He donated money to the group. He’s had that sign on his land for months.
Why turn against an ally?
Because a Jim Fulwider sign was placed beside it.
Fulwider, a county commissioner, is running for re-election.
“The builder of the sign requested it to be moved because it had a Fulwider sign beside it,” Schoen said.
“That (sign is) giving the implication that Jim Fulwider is against wind farms,” Watkins explained. “And (Fulwider) has never made any kind of public statement whether he is or isn’t.”
How silly.
It’s been written in this space that people put way too much stock in signs. Way too much. Why in the world would anyone vote for anyone based on, what, maybe half a dozen words? What happened to talking to candidates? Asking questions? Looking them in the eye? Researching their background and qualifications? Making a judgment for yourself based on facts and figures and not a few words on a colorful piece of plastic?
Signs? Really?
But even more ridiculous is the fact that when one sign is placed next to another it somehow magically means something. What’s next? Are we going to hire psychics to let us know what candidates are really thinking?
This entire incident was pointless. Instead of technicalities about legal right-of-ways, trespassing and repossession laws and even the question of whether a donation acts as a purchase when it comes to political signs, one very simple and common act of courtesy – asking permission before walking onto another man’s land – could have avoided any and all controversy. It’s hard to argue that wasn’t called for.
Let’s hope that going forward the worst-case scenario is an agreement to disagree. Let’s hope that episodes like this one – regardless of who’s right or wrong – are not repeated. Let’s hope that common courtesy and common sense win the day.

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.