Backyard Politics

We first noticed the change in the mammoth LED billboard on I-25 near 50th Avenue during an afternoon rush hour in late October. The marquee, which normally just lists the time and the temperature, was now offering an opinion on which way the political winds were blowing, flashing a McCain/Palin message. But the next morning, the message had been changed to read Obama/Biden — in the interest of fairness, perhaps, or maybe it was still undecided.

Then the board went dark for a couple of days before the McCain/Palin message mysteriously returned.

Perplexed, on Monday we put in a phone call to Backyards Plus, the business whose logo is right next to the sign. And we weren't the first to call. Over the weekend, incensed motorists had left a series of angry messages on the voice mail of Backyards Plus, according to a company representative.

But the business doesn't control the LED sign. In fact, Backyards Plus isn't even located by the sign anymore; the company that specializes in crafting custom back yards, from stamped concrete to outdoor kitchens and fire pits, moved to 70th Avenue and Washington Street last week. Nonetheless, Backyards Plus was subjected to so many misdirected, scorn-filled rants that employees had to post the following message on its website this week: "We are no longer at 50th and I-25, and the electronic billboard at our old location is and has been programmed by our old landlord. Backyards Plus is not responsible for any messages, political or otherwise, that have been recently posted on the electronic billboard on I-25."

Still, at least the company is used to the heat. It's fielded all kinds of complaints in the past about the temperature being wrong, the spokesman says with a laugh. "We're glad to be rid of the billboard location."

So who does control the sign? Colliers International, the leasing agent for the former Backyards Plus building at 5010 Acoma Street, disavows any involvement. "We do the leasing for that building," stresses a Colliers representative. "We don't actually own it, and so we wouldn't be in charge of what goes on that sign."

Which leaves us to deduce that the owners of 5010 Acoma were leaning Republican this election. Or Democrat, depending on the day. Either way, it was a sign of the times.

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera