Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hairston Flyers Illegally Stuffed into High-Rise Mailboxes

posted by richard gill

It is a Federal crime to place unauthorized items in anyone’s home mailbox. On January 28, my wife and I found a Leslie Hairston campaign flyer in our mailbox. Looking around our building’s mailroom, we saw the same Leslie Hairston flyer peeking out of most of the building’s 369 mailboxes. Whoever put the stuff there committed a crime with each slotting of the flyer.

We turned the flyer over to our building’s office, and a strongly worded notice was distributed to all residents. At present, I don’t know who the perpetrator was, but I will try to find out. If this offense occurs again, I will report it to the U.S. Postal Service, and there will be no doubt on whose behalf the offense was committed.

So here we see another transgression by the supporters of Leslie Hairston’s effort to be the 5th Ward’s Alderman for Life. These transgressions are all aimed at foiling the candidacy of Anne Marie Miles, who has mounted a credible and well-conceived campaign to be elected 5th Ward Alderman; she wants to furnish the ward with the stimulus, leadership and advocacy it sorely needs.

One may ask, what other transgressions were committed by the Hairston camp? First, there were the countless, groundless and frivolous objections to nearly every signature on Anne Marie Miles’ nominating petitions. This crude effort to simply wear Anne Marie down did not work. She persevered and has the top position on the ballot.

Then, there were the harassing threats to send building inspectors to the landlord of Anne Marie’s campaign office on 71st Street. Nice try, but Anne Marie has a lot of supporters on “Leslie’s turf”, and the campaign office found a new home. Next, a building inspector appeared (just by chance, of course) at a place displaying a sign supporting Anne Marie Miles for 5th Ward Alderman. It would be worth a look, in order to find out how this tactic may run afoul of Federal election laws, and even local laws regarding misappropriation of public monies.

And now, we have the mailbox caper.

A U.S. Postal Service press release dated September 9, 2010 says, “The U.S. Postal Service would like to warn people that only authorized U.S. Postal Service delivery personnel are allowed to place items in a mailbox. By law, a mailbox is intended only for receipt of postage-paid U.S. Mail….. the Postal Service has received complaints of flyers without paid postage being placed in mailboxes. … this type of activity is illegal by federal law.”

The Postal Service's Domestic Mail Manual states, “No part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items of matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle….” Even though homeowners purchase and maintain the residential mailboxes, the mailboxes belong to and are controlled by the U.S. Postal Service. That means that any tampering or misuse of the mailbox is a federal offense that comes with substantial penalties.

A person can only wonder what is next. If we find out about it, we’ll write about it.


Anonymous said...

Laws exist for incumbent aldermen to grind down their opponents. Next, we'll have Sherriff Rosco P. Coltrane ticketing her car after placing fake fire hydrants next to it, heh.

SJS said...

Some of us look to this blog for interesting developments on local politics, economy, or maybe even Elizabeth's Fama's take on crappy public art.

With this post on (horrors) people putting flyers in your u.s. gov't mailbox and other recent posts "outing" those who don't clear the snow off of their sidewalks quickly enough, you risk becoming the preferred destination for cranky little old ladies.

Nor does this infraction really merit notice in the world of dirty tricks in Chicago politics (for that, see the preceding HPP blog entry).

Personally, I'd prefer having fliers put in the mailbox to the usual m.o. leaving a pile of them on the floor of the lobby foyer, which is the usual MO.

Richard Gill said...

Yes, SJS, the mailbox thing is a relatively minor infraction, and were it the only one, I probably wouldn't have written about it. But as an addition to the pile, it takes on some significance.

Hyde Park Progress welcomes readers one-and-all, including cranky little old ladies. After all, one of us (yours truly) is a cranky little old man.

David Farley said...

Actually, the USPS tends to take a hard line on people stuffing non-mail items of any sort into mailboxes.

Richard Gill said...

"...the USPS tends to take a hard line..."

To clarify, the Hairston mailbox infraction was not minor in a legal sense, nor was it excusable as a campaign tactic. Only by comparison with other wrongdoings by Leslie Hairston's campaign was it "relatively minor."

The illegal mailbox distribution didn't appear to threaten harm to anyone. However, the threat to call out the building inspectors resulted in financial harm to the landlord of Anne Marie Miles's first campaign office, and carried with it the implied threat to do so in the future.

Similarly, the Hairston camp's antics in front of the election panel caused unwarranted time and cost
to a publicly funded body, and constituted a purposeful attempt to obstruct due process.

Chason said...

While SJS is completely valid in his opinion, I am glad that HPP is here to not only call attention to local politics, economic development, and other news, but to point a finger at those persons or organizations, especially those who so ingrained in the establishment, who are a detriment to those issues the blog highlights.

Bravo, HPP, for being an invaluable source of information on all things Hyde Park (and Vote Hairston Out!).

David Farley said...

Speaking of "outing" those who don't clear the snow off their sidewalks quickly enough, let's see some more of that.

David Farley said...

A friend has suggested we compliment those who did a great job shoveling their walks, particularly the landlord at the building on Kenwood next to the Bixler Playlot, and the townhouse at the corner of 56th and the same.

chicago pop said...

Great idea David Farley. I'll begin here by complimenting MAC Properties, before whose properties every square inch of sidewalk was scrubbed clean of snow almost as soon as it fell last week. There are benefits to having a large-scale property owner in the neighborhood who is capable of responding promptly to even an epic snowstorm like the one we just had. Walking down Cornell and then HPB from 49th to 56th last Thursday, it was instantly clear which buildings were MAC properties (a whole lot of them) -- the sidewalks were clear and wide. The benefits of near monopoly. Bravo.

Shoveling Ferret said...

Anyone have any insight into why automated, recorded messages from Anne Marie Miles are being phoned out with a number that shows on Caller ID as being "Price Crd Srvc" and is typically associated (based on some Googling) with a call for cash prizes scam?
Attempting to call the number back results in a busy signal and an automated message offering to call back when the line is free for only 75 cents.

Chason said...

I received the same call, but my caller ID only gave a local number.