Political signs: Complaints of placement without permission, denials, and a rule reminder

by beth on May 2, 2017

The Town Building Commissioner asked me to remind campaigners and supporters about rules for posting political signs. The request came with information alleging that a candidate has been accused of breaking those rules. 

Posting signs on private property requires prior permission from property owners. And no political signs may be posted on public property.

According to Town officials, several residents have complained that David Parry has violated both rules.

Parry, a candidate for the Board of Selectmen, rebuts that charges are “fabricated” and part of a “long standing vendetta” against him. (Though who by was unspecified.)

Building Commissioner Mark Robidoux said his office received complaints from several residents about signs purportedly placed without permission. And the Town Clerk’s office also confirmed receiving 10-15 complaints. (Clerk Jim Hegarty said they don’t log the calls, so he couldn’t be more specific.) 

They haven’t received complaints about any other candidates running this year.

Complaints against Parry include signs placed on private property without permission, plus the State buffer zone on Rt 9 and MWRA properties. Robidoux said some of the latter have since been removed.

The commissioner said this isn’t a witch hunt. He pointed out that if elected, Parry will be his boss. But, he said that when people complain about zoning violations, it’s his responsibility to investigate.

Robidoux said he looked into it, found multiple incidents where signs were placed without permission/rights and repeatedly asked Parry to get permission first or remove signs.

In contrast, Parry says that he spent extensive time getting homeowners’ permission before posting signs. And he denied the accusations about public property. 

Robidoux and Parry gave strikingly different accounts of the incidents and their interactions.

Parry asserted that the only public property he was aware that he technically infringed on was the same as other candidates. That is the strip of land between the Main Street road and the stone wall in front of homes he had permission to post at. 

He claimed that Robidoux came up to him yelling about that. He said he pointed out that others did the same.

Parry said he asked if moving the signs up against the wall would work and Robidoux said yes. Then he questioned whether other candidates were being asked to move their signs. 

But Robidoux says he asked Parry about permissions and asked “pretty please”. And he said that the only areas he cared about in front of the stone wall was where the property owner hadn’t given permission. He claims that when questioned, Parry admitted to not having permission for some of the placements.

Robidoux alleges that Parry admitted to not having permission to post in front of a house for sale at 85 Main St. When that sign was taken down, one went up in front of another property for sale at 279 Cordaville. Again, there appeared to be no permission given.

And Robidoux said he told Parry one homeowner claimed to have said no to the request to place a sign, only to have one placed anyway. He said Parry responded by claiming that a person who was installing signs for him doesn’t speak English and may have misunderstood. 

The commissioner also said he told Parry that people were upset by letters he was leaving.* He shared a copy of that letter with me.

avid Parry letter to homeowner

(click to enlarge)

The letter is generically printed “To the Homeowner”. It  thanks the owner for “allowing” the sign to be placed. But it follows that he had been unsuccessful in attempts to “verify consent”. It goes on to say “If for some reason I have placed a sign in error, or the wrong property, or in the wrong place” to remove it and contact him.

Hegarty said that he warned Parry back on April 25th about complaints. When residents called, Hegarty said he has explained that the Clerk’s office can’t do anything about the signs. He tells property owners they can remove/dispose of the sign, contact the sign owner, or follow up with the Building Commissioner or police.

Hegarty acknowledged that sometimes mistakes can be made about property lines. (He’s made one or two himself.) But he said that the complainants expressed aggravation that Parry was putting up signs before getting permission*, then asking through the letter to contact him if they didn’t want them. 

Meanwhile, Parry contends that the Town’s allegations are all part of a long standing vendetta (though not specifying by who.)

To back that up, he pointed to an event back when he ran in 1995. He said at that time, signs of his all across town were stolen. The Northborough Police then contacted him about his signs since they were discovered improperly disposed of. He was able to recover them in time to place them again.

That was an incident he shared through the blog when he ran for selectman again in 2014. (At that time, he charged that someone stole clipboards with voter signatures he had collected.)

Parry is running in a campaign this year with four other candidates for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. The election is a week from today. 

This Thursday night, they will be making their case to voters at the Library’s Candidates Night.

*Parry’s letter indicates he had already received permission in some way, and he claims he did. But residents complaining apparently either interpreted the letter differently or believed it was a sham.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 D. McGee May 2, 2017 at 4:51 PM

Not sure how Parry can deny it. His signs were all along Deerfoot Road between Route 9 and Clifford on the opposite side of the residences (on the property owned by Ken’s warehouse). Now they are all down.

Whether he put them there or someone on his staff did doesn’t matter to me….either way, he’s the candidate and should take responsibility instead of throwing out unsubstantiated conspiracy theories (unless he is taking cues from the Oval Office).

Reply

2 David parry May 2, 2017 at 10:29 PM

Editor,

I am utterly astonished by your article and the blatant lies by the Building Inspector. I have two witnesses and I am going to refute his claims one by one, on the record. This is intolerable.

Reply

3 beth May 3, 2017 at 6:24 AM

I don’t know why you were saying you are astonished by the article when I called you about the issue the day before to get your side. At the time you said you welcomed the story. And as promised, I shared your side that the charges were fabricated and part of a long-standing vendetta.

Reply

4 Fred May 3, 2017 at 7:33 AM

I hope David gets elected. Just for the pure entertainment value.

Reply

5 Alan May 3, 2017 at 8:47 AM

Conspiracy after conspiracy every time Mr Parry runs for office. I am having a hard time believing what he tells us.

Reply

6 Southviller May 3, 2017 at 9:08 AM

Never called the town but can confirm another case of a sign showing up with no permission. Mr. Parry saw me walking, asked me a question about where I stood on certain issues, and when asked where I was from I gave a neighborly point to our home down the street. Seemed just like a nice random conversation with a townie…

That night when I got home from some errands, a road sign had appeared! Promptly threw it away.

Reply

7 David parry May 3, 2017 at 9:48 AM

Quite right Beth. You did the right thing. I appreciate that you called me and, in effect, forewarned me.

I listened carefully to you, and knew that a bombshell. was coming my way ….. But what I did NOT know were the specifics, which the Inspector refused to give to me, when he stormed angrily into my house, shouting at me in front of my two astonished guests .

But you were clever enough to extract the specifics from the Inspector. Thank you. I am indeed astonished at the specifics, but I am also grateful to you, the press, for digging. Because now, finally, I have the information necessary to prove that this is a fabrication.

Now let me get back to preparing my detailed response.

Thank you again

David Parry.

Reply

8 Jack May 3, 2017 at 10:57 PM

The letter is all I need to see to form what I see as a reasonable conclusion (if he tried calling and emailing to get approval for weeks, as the letter states, then I would conclude that he knows the person he’s trying to contact, and there would be no need to put a flier on their doorstep to tell them who he is).

My advice to the candidate is to stop using your time trying to defend the placement of every individual sign, and spend your time and energy communicating your policies. If you pull off a miracle and convince me it’s a 22 year witch hunt trying to keep you from office, you still haven’t won my vote. If you convince me that you have policies and viewpoints that I agree with, maybe I get past the conspiracy theory on the signs.

Reply

9 Matthew Brownell May 4, 2017 at 7:53 AM

Ridiculous.

Can’t believe this multi-post chain and Senate Oversight investigation into the placement of Mr. Parry’s political signs.

Are his signs leaning up against a stone wall, or set out from the stone wall?

Are you anonymous trolls for real?

Jesus H. Christ, people, GET BETTER!

Obviously, there seem to be several aged, rusty hatchets out in search of David Parry’s neck.

If Soutborough’s “Building Inspector” is truly concerned about signage, perhaps he should re-focus his effort on the explosion of contractor signs that festoon Southborough’s landscape and roadsides – many of them remaining for a year or more. (Isn’t there a 30-day limit on this visual blight?)

I’ve been staring at the same advertising shingle on Lovers Lane (promoting an architecture firm) since, hmm, Halloween? Labor Day?

Reply

10 Alan May 4, 2017 at 9:06 AM

Matthew,
You can cast your vote for who you want to but please don’t tell the rest of us to ignore a specific behavior from some candidates. Behavior speaks to a persons character and that’s a lot of what I am voting for. There seems to be an ongoing pattern with some candidates and I will not ignore that.

Reply

11 Matthew Brownell May 5, 2017 at 9:51 AM

“Alan” . . . does it bother you in the LEAST that you are assaulting and questioning a man’s integrity and honesty from and anonymous psuedonym on an Internet blog??

Really?

I believe the voters of Southborough expect much, much more from themselves and government leaders.

Reply

12 D. McGee May 5, 2017 at 10:21 AM

Pot, meet kettle. Matthew, to quote your own post:

“Obviously, there seem to be several aged, rusty hatchets out in search of David Parry’s neck.”

“Are you anonymous trolls for real?”

To quote Shakespeare, “clean your finger before you point at my spots.”

Reply

13 Matthew Brownell May 5, 2017 at 11:36 AM

Strange . . . since you’re on Shakespeare, I was thinking your comments and snipes on David Parry are more of “Much Ado about Nothing”.

Reply

14 D. McGee May 5, 2017 at 1:51 PM

I was thinking more “A Comedy of Errors”.

15 David Parry May 5, 2017 at 9:23 AM

I was saddened by the public accusations made against me by the Building Inspector, because they are untrue, and I have taken a great deal of trouble to make sure that I do things right.

Let me summarize the actual events as they took place, because they are quite revealing.

On Thursday, April 27, at about 3 pm, the Inspector came directly into my house, without knocking, when I was in the middle of a conversation with two guests. These guests witnessed everything.

He interrupted the conversation, and began shouting at me in an angry tone. My guests were embarrassed. So was I.

“You may have lived in town a long time, and have many friends, but I have received complaints from an important person about your sign violations, and I have been told to take immediate action.” I asked him to calm down and name the “important” person, but he refused. I then asked him to name where the supposed violations were located, and he replied, “I don’t know yet, because I haven’t looked.” I asked him “Then why are you here?” and he answered “I am simply responding to this call for immediate action, and to ask for your help.” I asked him what help could I provide? He replied: “Can you think of anything you can do that would make my job easier? I don’t have time for this.” I replied: “Your job might be easier if you took the trouble to verify the facts, of whether violations actually exist, before you march into someone’s house and accuse them of violations.”

He ignored my suggestion, and instead asked if my signs were too close to the road. I replied that my signs were in the same locations as the signs of all the other Candidates, namely in the grass strip next to the road, outside the stone walls. I asked “Is that OK, or do you want them all moved?”. He responded by asking “Where else could they go?”. I suggested that all signs might be moved further away from the road, for instance right up against the stone walls. “Do you want me to do that?” I asked. He replied “Yes, I do.” I agreed to move my signs up against the stone walls, if he would agree (in fairness and equal treatment), to ask all other candidates to do the same.” He replied: “At least I got you to do something. Thank you”. Then he left.

(A side note: Obviously the Inspector did NOT ask the other candidates to move their signs, because all their signs are still near the road, and NOT near the stone walls).

Four days later, on Monday May 1st, the editor of “My Southborough”, Beth Melo, called me to stay that she had just spoken to the Building Inspector who had sent her an e mail containing a new “set of rules” he had just written. These rules were about the placement of political signs, and getting permission in advance from homeowners to place them in front of their homes. The editor told me that she had spoken with the Inspector at length, and he had specifically accused me, and me alone, of having signs in violation. I told the editor a summary of what I have written above, as to what happened the previous Thursday, April 27, when the inspector came to my house and could not identify any signs in violation.
The “My Southborough” article appeared on Tuesday, May 2, and I was surprised to find that it refers specifically to two signs that the Inspector considers to be in violation. To quote from the article:

1. “Sign in front of house for sale at 55 Main St.” ….. My answer: The Inspector has made a simple mistake. He has the wrong street number. The actual street number is 57 Main, which is adjacent to 55 Main. 57 Main is owned by long-time personal friends of mine, and they have given me permission to place signs, in advance. 55 Main is vacant.

2. “Sign in front of another property for sale at 279 Cordaville.” ….. My answer: I met the homeowners several years ago and again last month. They have also given me permission to place signs, in advance.

CONCLUSION – As far as I know, ALL my signs are OK. Here we have two specific signs which were claimed by a town official to be in violation, in the press, and without prior notification to me. Now I have proof that both signs are in full compliance and not in violation. Just as I said, this is a fabrication. And remember that I have two witnesses to this whole affair.

I hope this will be an end to this nonsense.

Reply

16 D. McGee May 5, 2017 at 9:57 AM

That doesn’t explain the numerous signs that were on Deerfoot between Route 9 and Clifford that have been removed. All of those signs were on the side of the road owned by Ken’s Warehouse, and were either on Ken’s property or public property. How do you explain those, and why were they removed?

Reply

17 Mike O. May 5, 2017 at 10:58 AM

I’m voting for David Parry. His experience with town planning and his emphasis on thoughtful development with a priority toward preserving the open space and unique character of Southborough is exactly what I’m looking for. I have seen his approach to important issues like the Main Street road project and the golf course/public safety building, and have found myself agreeing with his perspective. I think we should move on from “signgate” and instead, focus on identifying the candidates that reflect our own personal values. I’d actually like to hear from David, who he thinks are other good candidates to vote for this year. Thanks,

Reply

18 David parry May 5, 2017 at 12:57 PM

Two signs were put there by an immigrant from Brazil who does not speak English. , obviously by mistake. He speaks portugese. I noticed them later that same day , and removed them immediately;77. So I apologize on behalf of my immigrant helper,, and for the 8 hours of improper placement.

Now are you satisfied,?. If you like , you can try and talk to him yourself. He is very good at swinging a heavy sledge hammer, but not at understanding instructions.

Reply

19 John Duguid May 6, 2017 at 9:10 PM

David,

Feel free to put a sign in my yard. I’ll vote for you. Just make Southborough a better place for all of us (and after our recent conversation I believe you will).

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: