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Posted: April 25, 2013 6:53 p.m.

Morgan: Things I just don’t get

There are things — plenty of things — I just don’t get.

Some examples are people who leave their shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot instead of returning them to the shopping cart corrals; people who smoke next to a cigarette butt holder, yet toss their butts on the curb; people who won’t walk 20 paces to put trash in a trash can, instead tossing it on the ground beside their cars; people who don’t return loaned books or DVDs; and people who enter the express check-out lane with way more than the allowable limit.

The list goes on: people like the woman two seats over at Sunday’s “Les Miserables” performance who apparently thought her glowing iPhone wouldn’t disturb others; people who don’t vote; people who text and try to drive; drivers who drive slowly in the fast lane; cars that don’t yield to pedestrians; and pickup drivers who let the loose rubbish in their truck beds blow back onto your windshield and all over the roadside.

Then there are the people who don’t carry doggie cleanup bags when they walk their pooches; people who don’t use reusable shopping bags; clerks who badmouth their employers right in front of you and moan about the length of their shift; people who take up residence at the drive-thru banking window; people who don’t read; and people who won’t eat green vegetables.

I don’t get — really, really don’t get — a Congress that thumbs its collective noses at some 80-90 percent of Americans who support background checks for commercial gun buyers, in my opinion a minimal response to the most recent gun carnage in Newtown, Conn.

I don’t get the recent county commission giveaway — effectively — of the Nelson Heights Community Center to District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson.

It sets a disturbing precedent. Give a man an inch and he’ll take a mile.

The most recent thing I just don’t get is the City Council vote to throw over an expensive, well-researched and carefully crafted sign ordinance that was adopted in 2011.

The purpose at the time was to enforce higher standards on business signage throughout the city for the sake of bettering our appearance.

Only months afterwards, the council suspended enforcement of that ordinance based on a complaint from Newton Federal.

Now in the infinite wisdom of Mayor Ronnie Johnston and city council members Chris Smith, Keith Dalton and Mike Whatley, we have a new “permanent” temporary sign ordinance that will allow hundreds, possibly even thousands, of new signs to litter the visual impression of our town at each and every business and office. And this comes at just the moment when the eyes of the state, even nation, are focused on Covington and Newton County in the wake of the Baxter announcement and other pending development.

On April 15, the mayor cast the tie-breaking vote to allow one temporary sign — 16 square feet — at each and every business and organization in the city limits year round.

Just think what the square — sought after for TV and movie filming — will look like if every shop, store, restaurant and business there decides to throw up additional so-called temporary signage.

Most flea markets will look better.

To state the facts: The “Temporary Signs Requiring Permit” section of the city code (16.48.060) has been deleted and banners and sail signs have been incorporated into Section 16.48.050 “Additional Allowable Signs.”

Now there will be no permits required for the placement of temporary signs, including banners and sail signs.

A banner is defined as “a temporary sign of lightweight fabric, plastic or similar material designed to be hung either with or without a frame or other structure, with characters, letters, illustrations or ornamentation.

National flags, state and municipal flags, and official flags of businesses, institutions or other organizations shall not be considered banners.”

Sail signs are defined as “a piece of cloth, varying in size, shape, color and design, attached at one edge to a staff or cord for the entire vertical length of the cloth, and used as a means of conveying a message.”

Banners all too often dangle precariously from their original placement, slip, slide and flip around in the wind, looking like nothing more than laundry haphazardly hung on a clothesline. And sail signs?

They flail wildly in vigorous wind, becoming tattered and sun-faded, even in the course of a few months.

Think what they’ll look like when left in place for a year, as our mayor and three council think is OK.

And what’s the “message” this visual garbage dump will convey if spelled out on a sail sign? “Welcome to Covington — where standards fall as quickly as they rise.”

Or “Welcome to Covington — but try not to look.”

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at barbm2158@gmail.com.

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