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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2007

Fooling the voters

IT'S getting to be that time of year again, when the political cacophony rises, along with campaign signs. The voices get louder and the signs multiply into an annoying forest before Election Day, when it will quiet down and the landscape will begin to clear.

But even at this early date, Toledo City Councilman Michael Ashford is rightly being taken to task over his campaign signs.

Mr. Ashford's signs identify him as the "endorsed Democrat." Well, that's not exactly true because the endorsement process hasn't even started.

The councilman's explanation suggests a couple of things. One, since the signs in question date to 2002 and 2003, that he's recycling, making good use of material left over from previous campaigns when he was indeed the endorsed Democrat. But to post those signs now suggests he's trying to pull one over on unwary voters.

Either way, Mr. Ashford should know better. He's splitting hairs when he says, "You can't un-endorse a candidate until you have an endorsement process for District 4." That's misleading.

No wonder his opponent, Thomas Meinecke, filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission. The Ohio Secretary of State's policy says signs must be accurate when posted.

As far as political scandals go, this is light-weight stuff. But it's the minor violations that must be reined in if we are going to prevent more Watergates and Coingates from damaging civic life. And for a City Council candidate who says his goal is to be a cut above, this kind of behavior falls below that mark.

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