Furor over political signs in Island Lake
The Island Lake village board's recent decision to allow political candidates to place campaign signs on public property is causing strife in an already heated local race.
Village board candidate Joe Ptak is angry other candidates have placed their signs in the easement in front of his house. Accusing opponents Charles Cermak and Allen Murvine of harassment and intimidation, Ptak filed a complaint with police about the signs Sunday.
In an e-mail sent to the Daily Herald and village leaders, Ptak said he feels he and his family are "purposefully being harassed, intimidated and threatened" by the other candidates' placement of their signs.
Cermak admitted he and Murvine placed signs in front of Ptak's house but denied he was trying to intimidate the candidate.
Thanks to the village board's March 10 decision not to enforce rules banning political signs from public land, Cermak insisted he legally can place the signs in front of Ptak's house or any other house -- as long as they're on the public easement and not privately owned land.
"I know the law," Cermak said in a telephone interview.
Officers took Ptak's complaint and spoke with Cermak, but police are not pursuing the matter further, Chief William McCorkle said.
Six candidates -- split into two slates -- are running for three seats on the village board.
Ptak is running with Thea Morris and Shannon Fox. Cermak and Murvine are running with Mary Piekarski.
Trustee John Ponio proposed lifting the local ban on political signs in public right-of-ways at the March 10 meeting. Such bans are common throughout the suburbs.
The board members didn't vote on the matter but indicated they supported the proposal. Afterward, village attorney Stewart Diamond said the consensus essentially meant village officials wouldn't pursue candidates who violate the ordinance during the election season.
Cermak said he and his running mates have been placing signs on public land throughout the village, just as the other team's candidates have done.
Some opposition signs have appeared in front of Cermak's barber shop on Route 176, he said. Additionally, Murvine said his opponents' signs have appeared in the easement at his house.
Cermak denied he targeted Ptak's house but said he knew Ptak's address and deliberately planted signs there, as well as at other locations.
"I see (the signs) all day, and I think Joe should be able to see them all day," Cermak said.
When asked why Ptak's address was chosen, Murvine said his group is "being strategic" with sign placement.
The signs Cermak and Murvine put at Ptak's house Sunday actually replaced signs that were removed earlier, Cermak said. A Ptak family member removed the original signs, the police report indicated.
Cermak said Murvine took photographs of the signs in front of Ptak's house and of signs in other high-traffic areas. The photographs will help remind them where they put signs so they can be picked up after the April 5 election, Cermak said.
In his e-mail, Ptak said he is "not going to be intimidated" by the other candidates.