Sign ban unlikely to take hold in Brookfield

? Neither PEP nor VIP believe they could enforce a political sign ban on private property.

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By BOB UPHUES

After shaking hands with VIP Party President Thomas Nowicki in November on a no-political-sign pact between the two rival political parties in Brookfield, PEP Party President David LeClere would like to make the agreement official.

 On Jan. 5, LeClere sent a contract to Nowicki, laying out the terms of the no-sign agreement and asking for Nowicki's signature as a sign that VIP still wanted in on the deal. Nowicki had 10 days to think it over.

Get ready for lots of lawn signs.

While both Nowicki and LeClere think the no-sign agreement is a worthy idea, neither was sure how exactly such a contract could be enforced.

"It seemed like a great idea when we started things out," Nowicki said. "Right now we're in limbo. We're running it by our lawyers, but they don't think it's an enforceable thing."

Said LeClere: "[Enforcement] is going to be the biggest thing. If Tom has any suggestions to change the agreement, I'd be willing to do that."

According to the agreement drawn up by the PEP Party, both sides would refrain from providing signs?"lawn, window or otherwise?"to supporters. In addition, both parties would be responsible for spreading the word about the sign ban and asking supporters to honor the agreement.

To deal with any renegade sign posters, the agreement calls for both party presidents to visit the property owner personally within 24 hours to ask that the offending sign be removed.

In the event that either party is found in violation of the agreement, the offending side would be required to donate $1,000 to a not-for-profit charity agreed upon by the two sides. To make sure the penalty is paid, meanwhile, both sides would put up a $1,000 cashier's check to be held by the not-for-profit group.

"Since I was at that [November] meeting and shook [Nowicki's] hand, I thought we needed to do something," LeClere said. "I didn't want to go into the election without resolving it."

Before the 10-day window of opportunity to get the agreement ratified was over, however, neither side appeared very confident that the other had any plans to abide by the agreement.

"I don't think the agreement we gave them, that they will sign it," LeClere said. "Tom's a good guy and we have a good working relationship, but I don't think the two sides can agree on anything."

That wariness extended to the VIP Party, too. In an e-mail last week, Village President Bill Russ, who is running for reelection on the VIP ticket wrote, "They want us to sign an agreement that they made up and may try to trick us! They will give the charity the $1,000 and laugh at us [when] we did not put any signs up and they did! Go to their "new" section about volunteering on the PEP Web site."

The PEP Web site Russ referred to includes a statement on having a "PEP yard sign at election time."

For his part, LeClere also couldn't imagine VIP abiding by a sign ban.

"I can't see Bill [Russ] going through his election without his name all over everything," he said.

Political signs are allowed in the 30 days prior to the election. In the case of this year's election, that means signs are allowed any time after March 5.

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