Columns » Public Eye

Kids these days


Susan Canniff's yard sign was ripped out and her house was defaced. Fearing more vandalism, she has since put the Kerry-Edwards sign in her garage. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Susan Canniff's yard sign was ripped out and her house was defaced. Fearing more vandalism, she has since put the Kerry-Edwards sign in her garage.

When Michael Delaney read about how sputtering mad Republican Larry Liston got at Democrats, whom he assumed stole all the Republican signs along his street, Delaney was positively rolling down the aisle of mirth. "This wasn't a matter of the Democrats pulling dirty tricks on Larry Liston; it was about pulling a prank on me," Delaney said.

Delaney is a neighbor of Liston's in the Nancy Lewis Park area of north-central Colorado Springs. The way he figures it, he is the only Democrat on his block. A few weeks back, a couple of teenaged friends of his son's thought it would be really hysterical to rip up all the Republican yard signs in the neighborhood, and plant them all in Delaney's yard in the middle of the night. But Delaney's kid busted his friends mid-operation, and they aborted the plan. Delaney found out about the midnight commando raid a few days later.

But Liston, who is running for the House of Representatives in District 16, did not know of the prank. When he woke up on Sept. 20, he fired off this angry letter, obtained by the Independent.

"I have awoken (sic) to find out that malcontents, low lifes and thugs from the Democratic Party have taken ALL of our signs down for President Bush and Pete Coors on our ENTIRE street. They conveniently have left up the democrat (sic) signs. This action is highly repugnant and very offensive.

"While people from [the Democratic] party fight to trample the rights of Ralph Nader, they are not content; so they steal Republican signs from everyone who simply express (sic) a little freedom of speech. [The Democratic] party should be ashamed!"

Responded Delaney: "The fact it happened on Larry Liston's street makes no difference; the kids wouldn't know Larry Liston from a man on the moon."

And, as was pointed out in this space a couple of weeks back, Liston himself is no stranger to the art of ripping up yard signs. Accompanying his outrage were photographs of Liston, at a Republican fund-raiser. One shot shows him wielding a big stick, with a hook at the end, demonstrating his technique of ripping up political yard signs, which is illegal. When asked about the photographs, Liston insisted that he never, ever, rips up yard signs and that his demonstration was just a joke.

But Susan Canniff isn't laughing. Canniff, who lives in the Springs Ranch subdivision in northeast Colorado Springs, returned home one recent afternoon, and then went inside for a short while before heading outside to do some yard work. During that short time, someone had ripped out her Kerry for President yard sign, thrown it to the side and, in black Magic Marker had written directly on her house, next to her front door, "Kerry sucks."

"I felt like I'd been punched in the chest," Canniff said. "I've never felt unsafe in my own home."

She called the police, only to be further shaken. "The police officer said this is happening all over town and [I live in] a Republican area, and he advised me not to put the sign back up because I would be leaving myself open to attack," Canniff said. "The cop said it would just escalate, and the next time it would probably be a rock through my window."

This week, CSPD spokesman Lt. Rafael Cintron maintained that "we do not tell people what they should or shouldn't display." Still, Canniff put her Kerry for President sign in the garage. It took her three hours to scrub clean her defaced home. She figures that some punk kid was responsible. She also figures the kid didn't learn such behavior on his own -- or even from his friends.

"This isn't coming from the kid; it's coming from his home."


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