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Louisville man removes hundreds of signs

LOUISVILLE — James Gissendaner is an equal-opportunity, bipartisan campaign sign enforcer.

You folks with garage sale signs might want to be careful, too.

Gissendaner, 47, who lives in downtown Louisville and works as a courier driver, said that this season he "collected" nearly 1,000 campaign signs that had been incorrectly placed in state rights-of-way — swaths of land between sidewalks and roads, or medians separating lanes of traffic.

His van held a bountiful harvest Nov. 3: 317 signs, from Republican and Democratic candidates alike.

All were taken to a Metropolitan Sewer District facility, which will hold them for 30 days, then offer them back to the candidates.

"They're garbage. They're eyesores. And it's illegal," he said. "If someone is running for (office), they ought to know something about where these signs can and can't go.

"I'm doing my civic duty, cleaning up the roads."

Gissendaner said he's a registered Republican who always votes Democratic.

One sweep along Bluegrass Parkway and Blankenbaker Parkway attracted the attention of Jeffersontown police. As he came out of the post office there, Gissendaner noticed an officer peering at the signs in the back of his van.

Gissendaner said he told the officer they were all illegally placed signs — which, he said, failed to impress the officer — and he told her the signs along the post office driveway were destined for his van as well. He was not cited, nor were the confiscated signs taken from him.

But the officer did tell him to suspend his cleanup operation.

"She told me that I'd be arrested for disturbing the peace if I took them," he said, referring to the signs at the post office. "I wasn't going to argue with her. She had a gun."

Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders said his department received two complaints about Gissendaner. He said his officer handled the situation correctly.

"We couldn't prove he was taking them from anywhere other than state rights-of-way," Sanders said. "So there was no criminal violation there."

David Devers, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said road crews are told to collect the signs whenever they are placed in rights-of-way. He said signs can create a hazard in some cases.

Devers said the state also holds the confiscated signs until after the election and then offers them back to the candidates.

"If the signs are illegal, I guess they're fair game to anybody," Devers said. "I guess he's doing us a favor."