Sign Thief Story Concluded

Posted: December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

The story on KATU began with anchors Steve Dunn and Debora Knapp chuckling to each other in a condescending tone as Knapp commented to the field reporter, “It didn’t quite work, did it Joe?”  It has become a saying at my house when something works particularly well, beyond what was expected.

John Ellis-Reisdorf, the sign-stealing cyclist whose bright yellow outfit and deft snatch-and-dump technique have been seen repeatedly on sites like YouTube, the Columbian, and the Victoria Taft Website among others, has apparently lost his case before the Clark County District Court. According to earlier reports, he had initially pleaded ‘not guilty’, contending that he was merely removing signs that were not supposed to be placed on public ground as a service to the neighborhood. No word on how he reconciled this with the fact that he took the signs around the corner and dumped them in a pile under a tree in someone’s yard.

According to the Columbian report:

John Ellis-Reisdorf was accepted into a diversion program Nov. 1 in Clark County District Court to pay for his crime. He has already completed his eight hours of community service in the court’s diversion program, which dismisses charges in exchange for community service and staying out of trouble for a year, said Vancouver’s City Prosecutor Kevin McClure. He also was charged $485 to pay for the cost of processing his case in court, McClure said. As long as he stays crime-free until November 2013, the misdemeanor charges of removing or defacing a political advertisement will be dismissed.

This story has been interesting on several fronts. First, the fact that such a widespread problem as sign theft had been met with passivity and resignation before PCOLA’s intervention. When we first reported PCOLA signs being stolen in a certain area of East Vancouver, we were told by several political sages not to get excited, that it was a fact of life in a campaign. Having spent many hours at my kitchen table with several others putting these signs together, I found that answer very unsatisfactory. Perhaps it meant more to me because it was my own time and money rather than a contribution from a faceless donor.

Secondly, the fact that this fellow was caught seems to have been applauded on many sides of the aisle. People who were actively working against us in the PCO races were not only joyfully reporting to us afterward that less signs were missing, but also asking us to set up more ‘stings’ on their behalf. Even Democrats and the Columbian itself seemed to be aiding us in getting this story out and making an example of this violator of everyone’s First Amendment rights. Just for a moment, it was easier to imagine what everyone working together to fix a universal problem might be like. I couldn’t help thinking, if only we could channel this into addressing budget deficits, insane taxation, infringement on civil liberties, or ending gratuitous wars – things that should not be a function of partisanship, but of a sensibility that ought to be common to us all. This utopian reverie lasting only for a second before somebody began blaring Rush Limbaugh on their radio, and I returned to reality. Phew!

Finally, I was amazed at how a story that to me was so cut-and-dried could be spun in so many ways. One local blogger did his best to erode at everyone’s excitement and dismiss the whole episode as a waste of time, while another accused us of staging the whole operation in order to gain media attention. As already mentioned, KATU spun it as an inter-party squabble and said that the whole operation was a failure, implying that our actions of posting signs and catching the thief on video were actually more illegal than the guy who stole the signs. Only the Columbian did a credible job reporting the story without inserting a foreign narrative.

Props to Stevie Mathieu of the Columbian for following up on this story.

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Comments
  1. Damon says:

    It’s a great story. Liberty is taking over in Clark County. Those with naughty intentions got caught. 8 Hours of service and $500 isn’t too bad, hopefully just enough to wake him up to the positive changes happening here and abroad!

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