Paul Smith Issues Threat over Campaign Sign
This morning, as I scanned the Facebook pages of local candidates, I came across this item on Mayoral Candidate Paul Smith’s page:
I would like to call your attention to the comment he posted on Tuesday, September 29 at 6:02PM, where Mr. Smith states “As of September 29th, Taylor’s illegal sign still stands. This will not be forgotten. (emphasis added)”
Not being privy to Mr. Smith’s innermost thoughts, it is difficult to know for certain what he means here. If we were to be charitable, we might surmise that Mr. Smith has decided he will no longer purchase his submarine sandwiches from Jimmy John’s or his coffee from Starbucks. That would be his prerogative, and completely understandable. Why support the business of somebody who doesn’t support your campaign, right?
But the fact of the matter is that Mr. Smith has already been in office as a city councilman before, and his past behavior gives us some clues as to what his future behavior might be. During his brief, single term in office, Mr. Smith made quite the show of throwing his weight around. A few examples immediately come to mind:
- A well-documented attempt to improperly influence the members of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to vote against a business Mr. Smith did not want to come to Sterling Heights,
- An incident where Mr. Smith attempted to use his “authority” as a member of City Council to order the driver of a piece of heavy earth moving equipment to stop operating it on a public road,
- An incident where Mr. Smith was thrown out of a local car dealership after he took issue with a sign supporting a tax increase posted in front of the business and chose to create a scene in the showroom.
Mr. Smith has little patience for people who oppose him. As you can see above, in the past he used his elected office as a cudgel to attempt to silence his opposition, improperly influence the city’s boards and commissions and act outside of his authority.
So, in consideration of the man we’re talking about here, it’s probably pretty safe to conclude this is a veiled threat. Next question: who is he threatening?
It seems to me he could be threatening Mayor Taylor, who maintains that he has the proper signed form for the campaign sign. Of course, he’s trying to defeat the mayor in the current campaign, and if he wins, he will have had a significant victory.
He could be threatening Code Enforcement with not enforcing what he feels is the law regarding campaign signs. This seems more likely, since he would have significant influence over Code Enforcement if elected.
But I think the most likely case is that he is threatening the property owners that authorized the sign. This fits the pattern of his previous behavior most closely.
I cannot predict what exactly Mr. Smith intends to do to these property owners if he is elected and gets the chance. One can only speculate that he will do the same sort of things he tried to do the last time in office. If Mr. Smith is elected mayor, or a majority of his running mates are elected to City Council, It is not a big stretch of the imagination to come up with a few possible scenarios:
- If they ever have business before a city council that Mr. Smith or his fellow challenger candidates control, they can probably expect to have their request rejected. For example, they might want a piece of property rezoned for a future business venture, which requires an act of council. A request of this nature would probably be denied on Mr. Smith’s watch, regardless of its merits.
- If the property owners ever find themselves in some sort of trouble with the code enforcement arm of the city, they will probably find that Mr. Smith has lodged the complaint, and is attempting to influence the code enforcement division to pursue the matter to the extreme.
- Should Mr. Smith find he has the opportunity to do so, he might use his influence as Mayor to benefit one of their competitors, disparage their business, or otherwise repay them for this perceived slight.
Were Mr. Smith a reasonable man with whom I merely disagree on matters of politics, I would have to chalk this all up to a poor word choice on his part and leave it at that. Most of the time, when you don’t know a man’s thoughts or motives, you should give him the benefit of the doubt unless you have past experience that indicates otherwise.
In Mr. Smith’s case, however, we do have the past experience with his past behavior, especially his outbursts. They are so frequent I have come to think of them as ‘Smithsplosions’. In my opinion, his past behavior portends bad things for those property owners.
If I were them, I would be seriously concerned. And that, precisely, is the effect his words are intended to have. He is trying to intimidate them into taking Mr. Taylor’s sign down.
If the sign disappears before the election, you will know that he succeeded in intimidating them.