A group of yard signs supporting presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.
A group of yard signs supporting presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. (flickr.com)

Assorted thoughts on assorted subjects:

          Free speech: Penn Township should heed the "signs" of possible litigation and rescind an ordinance that allows political yard signs only within 30 days of an election.

The issue came to light when a resident complained she'd been ordered by a township official to remove an Obama sign from her yard. Was the township biased against Sen. Obama, she wondered?

No, said officials, they just have a rule that only allows the signs to be up within 30 days of an election. The idea is to keep the township looking nice.

Laudable, perhaps, as the signs do bring a lot of vacuous visual clutter to the landscape -- offering very little actual information other than the candidate's name and his or her campaign color scheme.

A yard sign supporting presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.
A yard sign supporting presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. (flickr.com)

But the signs are still considered protected free speech by the courts. American Civil Liberties Union officials say they've won numerous decisions in court over such ordinances -- and Penn Township's would not likely hold up.

Plus, it could end up costing taxpayers a good bit of money -- as Littlestown learned recently when it paid $16,000 in legal fees for a couple who fought the borough's misguided sign ordinance.

Responding to the resident's complaint, Penn Township officials have decided not to enforce the sign ordinance.

Good -- but not good enough.

And neither would changing the window to 60 days -- as some officials have discussed.

Freedom of speech has no time limit. Just repeal the rule and trust residents to clean up their own yards after the election is over.

Fired up: Speaking of small-town politics: Will the civic embarrassments never end in Wrightsville?

No sooner had things simmered down somewhat over the police department created by the felonious former mayor, now a fire department feud has flared up.

Some borough council members want the Wrightsville Steam Fire Engine & Hose Co. to allow bingo games, fundraisers and other events in its building -- arguing the company is the recipient of borough fire taxes and has held its own fundraisers at the facility. So why deny a fundraiser for the borough recreation commission, as it did this year?

The fire department doesn't want to host such events -- saying that would force it to keep equipment outside, subject to rust and vandalism.

On Sept. 11 (heavy-handed on the symbolism, eh?) the company voted to separate itself from the borough and change its name to Eastern York Fire and Rescue and saying it will draft a new charter designating its primary response area as Hellam Township and possibly offering to contract with the borough.

Oh, good grief. Talk about taking your fire truck and going home. It all looks like a childish dispute on both sides.

This, folks, is partly why we've been encouraging the borough to move toward more professional regional police and fire services.