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June 7, 2010

Conaway wants her big signs back

A dispatch from City Hall reporter Julie Scharper:

Belinda Conaway has a reputation for being a bit of a maverick on the Baltimore City Council.

In recent months, she has introduced both a resolution to investigate how police handle routine stops and a bill to create a “drag net” around problem areas. And as chair of the budget committee, she drew flak from police last month when she used a hearing on the department’s budget allocation to submit a laundry list of questions on the racial makeup of command staff.

Today, Conaway is unveiling a piece of legislation that hits close to home. Very close to home.

The councilwoman, whose father, mother and brother are all elected officials and city residents, wants to abolish size restrictions on political campaign signs in residential areas.

“This is what I call the Conaway law,” the councilwoman said at a luncheon work session. “It’s a nitpicky thing against the Conaways.”

The councilwoman, who lives in West Baltimore at an address shared by her parents and brother, said her family “traditionally has had large signs, particularly in the last race.”

Given the tight financial times, it seems foolhardy to waste resources on enforcing campaign sign laws, she said.

But Councilman Robert Curran, who sponsored the bill that limited the size of the signs, said it was not inspired by the Conaway family’s signs, but rather large signs that appeared in his Northeast Baltimore district during the last state delegate race.

The signs dwarf postage-stamp rowhouse lawns, said Curran, adding that signs can be much larger in commercial areas. And some sort of cap is needed to prevent enormous political billboards in residential areas, he said.

Conaway said she believes doing away with the size limit would make it easier for new candidates, who might be able to afford a few large signs but not many small ones.

“It’s not just for incumbents but for everyone,” she said.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 5:43 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010, City Hall, Law and Courts


I wish Belinda Conaway would stop pretending that her constituents somehow want giant political signs in their front yards. Everyone I know hates the SMALL signs; why would they somehow want LARGE signs?

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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