Signs Of Change: It’S About Time

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Signs of the times.

Time for some signs.

Must be a timely sign.

We could go on. Suffice to say, we’re happy the Payson Town Council has loosened restrictions on temporary signs so essential to businesses held hostage by the highway.

Back in the old, old times — like five years ago — the Payson council looked down its long nose at business signs. Smarting from some whiney Phoenix TV station’s story about sign clutter, Payson decided to channel Sedona — with fancy signs and earth-tone color schemes.

So the council imposed limits on signs — especially temporary banners and sandwich-board signs set up in town right-of-way alongside the highway. The restrictions required business owners to pull their signs in on Tuesdays and only fly their banners 15 days a month. The Design Review Board chimed in with limits on materials and colors.

About eight months ago, the town council decided to revisit the restrictions — intending to loosen up a bit. Now, we’re still trying to figure out why that would take eight months, but never mind: We won’t quibble.

In the meantime, the town’s code enforcement officers continued to respond to complaints by enforcing the ordinance as written. They warned a couple of businesses with little eye-catching signs along the highway to pull the signs back or face confiscation.

Well, that whacked the hornet’s nest with a piñata stick. Angry business owners crowded the council chambers to demand the elimination of most of the restrictions on temporary signs. The council scrambled to comply, swearing sympathy for the businesses that generate the sales tax that pays all the salaries down at town hall. They quickly voted to loosen the rules — although they sent the issue of colors and materials back to the Design Review Board for quick action.

That’s great. But we hope the council didn’t overlook the most important thing said in the whole debate. Several businesses pointed out that even a small, eye-catching sign on the highway could dramatically improve business.

So now the town should take the next step. Adequate signage easily visible from the highway remains vital to the success of the businesses whose sales taxes support this community. So maybe instead of spending $200,000 on an overhaul of the general plan, the town council ought to find a way to dramatically increase the effectiveness of signage along the highway. Electronic signs? An improvement district? A property tax surcharge? A sales tax set-aside?

We’re glad the town will stop punishing businesses trying to gain attention. Now, we think the town should help those businesses survive.

Paranoid fantasies

A United Nations plot? Seriously?

Mind you, we can think of lots of reasons to criticize the stampede to impose the national, Common Core academic standards on local school districts. And we have voiced our qualms repeatedly in this space. Granted, we love the embrace of critical thinking skills Common Core seeks to encourage. However, we’re worried that the hasty imposition of a national curriculum and the simplistic use of test scores to allocate school funding will have all sorts of unintended consequences. The rush to adopt the national standards and slap down a bunch of new standardized tests promises to enslave teachers, warp funding and hinder broad, joyful, creative student learning.

So, we’re certainly not about to link arms and bust out in a Common Core “Kum Ba Yah” chorus. But still: Can anyone seriously mistake this effort to reform our schools for a United Nations plot to turn our children into brainwashed little globalized drones?

Alas, the Payson Tea Party and an unsettling number of Republican lawmakers seem willing to listen seriously to this blather. A little group of conspiracy theorists insists on absurd evidence that the United Nations is somehow behind the years of effort to come up with national curriculum standards. With perfectly straight faces and not a shred of plausible evidence, they link Common Core to the fiercesome Agenda 21 — yet another lurid fantasy.

We were grieved to see the Payson Tea Party giving such credence to these absurdities. The Tea Party remains perhaps the most vital political forum in the region. During the election, the cadre of activists that attends the weekly meetings provided a marvelous service by hosting candidate forums. So we hate to see them squander their credibility on foolishness like this laughable witchhunt for the fantastical United Nations bureaucrats hiding under the Common Core bed.

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