Shortly after Texas Governor Rick Perry invoked Tim Tebow at last night's Republican presidential debate, followers of another candidate, Ron Paul, delivered a message to Denver-area drivers -- one that may have pissed off as many of them as it inspired.
Unknown Paul supporters hung banners on a series of highway overpasses, causing slowdowns system-wide.
According to Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacy Stegman, the banners, which called for an end to military actions overseas in addition to touting Paul's presidential aspirations, decorated multiple overpasses on I-25, I-225 and C-470. In addition, a reliable source -- my beloved -- spotted one on I-70.
At this point, CDOT doesn't have a final count. But Stegman says department personnel couldn't wait until after rush hour to begin taking the banners down, even though workers' presence typically makes the usual congestion worse. "We don't know if they're properly secured," she says, "and they could cause an accident if they blow down on cars. It's definitely a risk. We've had that kind of thing happen in the past."
As the presidential election grows nearer, does Stegman expect more situations like this? Not really. Big-time political operations rarely hang banners on overpasses, she notes: "It's more like signs in right-of-ways. We take those down and try to save them -- and we'll give them back if campaigns want to pick them up."
Not so banners, since hanging them from overpasses breaks a "wide range of different laws," she says. "It could fall under abandoned property, littering, all kinds of stuff." And while CDOT cameras are unlikely to record perpetrators in the act, "if law enforcement sees them, they can be charged with a crime.
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"Bottom line, it's illegal to do that," she stresses. "And it's a shame we've had to waste resources taking them down to begin with."
If Ron Paul becomes president, she may be changing her tune.
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More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver elects a new leader: Shelby, a Border Collie mix."