Who determined location for Clear Channel Voter Fraud billboard in Cleveland's inner city? The Message is the Medium!

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Fri, 10/05/2012 - 17:53.

voter fraud bill board sign billboard clear channel cleveland ohio cuyahoga county private family foundation

This sign came to my attention via Kathy Wray Coleman's email blast - check Ms. Coleman's reporting at http://www.clevelandurbannews.com/.   Anyway, my interest aroused,  I went to take a look for myself (and took this image) 

The Clear Channel Outdoor Communications bill board sign at the corner of East 35th Street and Community College Blvd. in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio is uncomfortable - in a potentially racist kind of way.

One reason I find it uncomfortable is that I haven't seen this bill board anywhere else - e.g. in Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, Parma, Chagrin Falls, Atlanta or Chicago.

Standing on an empty corner lot facing what is a local neighborhood street (as opposed to a cross town artery)  just east of Cuyahoga Community College, and at the edge of Cleveland Municipal Housing  Authority Outhwaite Homes, the sign strikes me as a threat to those who live in the area and to those who attend Tri C (Cuyahoga Community College)  - not a bona fide public information campaign. 

Because the context (in this case geographic at East 35th Street) is critical to the understanding of the message - read Marshall McLuhan on Wikipedia here - more needs to be known about the motivations behind this advertizing.

At the bottom left of the sign (all today's signs consist of wide bed digitally printed plastic sheeting pulled over the frame of the bill board) it reads: "Paid for by a private family foundation".


Why doesn't the private family foundation announce its identy?

Who is this "private family foundation" and did they have any input into the logistics of where Clear Channel located the sign - Yeah, we will hear that the placement was completely random - like the lottery - Yeah. 

Could this be a racial hate crime?

Pretty weird.

Needs more research.

Wouldn't it be cool if the MacArthur Foundation ( or any other organization), in addition to providing Genius Grants, would provide funding for investigative reporting? 

That better world might be closer to this funding possibility because of the internet - we'll see with time. 

But until the funding comes (and it probably never will) each individual is responsible for voluntarily - unpaid - reporting on what you see, on what you know, on what you see is wrong, unethical, corrupt.

So go out, use your eyes, and report back on the internet. 

the only perk you get?   You will sleep better....

FTR, a report about another Cleveland media campaign I didn't feel comfortable with can be seen here


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Bain Capital owns Clear Channel

http://www.flickr.com/photos/southernbreeze/7531846558/ Interestingly, I found this on the internet - I have not vetted it yet so your feedback would be appreciated.

Here is a link to a very (very)similar Clear Channel sign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2010.  Funny, I don't see any "paid for by a private family foundation" on the Wisconsin sign.   (can't see the bottom of the sign though)

Wouldn't it be interesting if there was no "private family foundation"

Could Clear Channel be violating their FCC mandate and their own "code" of ethics?


Wouldn't it be funny if Clear Channel was using their least paid for billboards  (located in an economically struggling area were WIC and Newport are the news thats advertized) to promote corporate  views - while probably getting a federal tax deduction for community non- commercial "public service" notices?

Here's a little vetting....

According to wikipedia, Bain Capital - the "venture" capital firm Mr. Romney profits from, took over Clear Channel in 2008.


I have a funny feeling that this awkward sign -located where it is without the identity of it's proponent -  is a result of the same total - emotionally steril - lack of empathy that the dog had to face on the roof of the car for the trip from Massachusetts to Ontario. 

Let's see if I'm correct in my hunch....


Bain owns ClearChannel

I went to both Bain Cap. and ClearChannel websites and they both confirm what was stated in the article, that Bain owns ClearChannel. I first saw it on wikipedia and we all know to take that with a grain of salt. As soon as I saw the top of the billboard I knew who owned it. I sent an e-mail to Sen. Nina Turner tweeted like crazy to shows like The Ed Show,Martin Bashir, And Rachel Maddow, because this truly needs to be made public and I haven't heard any of these shows say word one about it. I tried to Google Private Family Foundation with not much luck, so more investigating is needed on that regard. This is the first website I've seen that made the connection between the two companies. Why this isn't bigger news is beyond me.

Bain and voter intimidation

This is so over the top and the mainstram media is ignoring it. Not knowing what else to do, I put it on Facebook (with credit to Jeff Buster for the photo. Please don't sue me, Jeff :))

I did this because local news stations mine Facebook for news tips. Maybe one thing will lead to another. I asked that it be shared freely.

Washington D.C. Cvil rights group requests CLear Channel remove

Washington D.C. Cvil rights group requests Clear Channel remove the voter fraud signs.



Jim Cullinan, a spokesman for Clear Channel, said the advertiser for the billboard has a contract for the signs to be posted at those locations.

"The advertisement has nothing to do with Clear Channel Outdoor, it was the advertiser," Cullinan said.

He said the company understands the sensitivity of the signage and would start a dialogue with political leaders and community activists who have expressed their feelings about the billboards.

Cullinan said it not the company's normal practice to install signs without naming the sponsor, but that the group, which requested anonymity, was able to get the language in their contract. He said the company now views that as a mistake and will not post signs without naming the official sponsor in the future.

"We prefer to have that disclaimer in any ad," Cullinan said. "In our minds, it is an error that it was not in there."



Another Clear Channel sign

E. 40th and Carnegie: Obama supports gay marriage and abortion.....do you? Vote Republican". It does have a statement of responsibilty (Republican Union of some sort).

It is placed so that people going east on Carnegie view it. Maybe it will enourage the people in the Heights to vote :)

Clear Channel "voter fraud" bill boards - hate crime?

  There remain important unanswered questions regarding the provenance of Clear

Channel Communication's "Voter Fraud" bill boards in the inner city of Cleveland,


1.      Since the "private" sponsor has not been identified, one really doesn't have any reason to believe that there is a private sponsor - Clear Channel Communications could just be lying - in an effort to make it seem that the Corporation was "neutral", when in fact the Corporation placed the bill boards.  
2.       When Clear Channel negotiated with the City of Cleveland City Counsel for permits to install large electronic signage - Clear Channel made bill board removal deals with various of the Cleveland City Counselors.    Clear Channel agreed to remove low revenue neighborhood signs.
I don't like to link to the Dirty Dealer, but here is a 2008 link which includes discussion about bill board removal.  For more on the bill board removal, search the Dirty Dealer for "Clear Channel digital signs".
Who kept track of whether or not Clear Channel - having got its electronic signs, actually removed any signs?  What signs were removed?   Show me the record.
3.    An October 12, 2012 Reuters report quotes a Clear Channel  spokesman: "The content of the message is not governed by campaign advertising regulations requiring disclosure of funding sources, said the Clear Channel Outdoor spokesman, David Yale, adding that billboards were placed in areas to "reach maximum saturation" and not to racially and socio-economically profile."
 The claim that the billboards are placed geographically "to reach maximum saturation" is not an honest statement.    
In recent reports from news organizations who have interviewed Clear Channel spokespersons, the spokesperson  maintained that it was the "private family" which decided on the location of the bill boards.   See quote of Clear Channel spokesman Jim Cullinan in this Realneo comment by dwebb.  The two different Clear Channel spokemen need to get their stories straight. 
This "Voter Fraud" signage campaign is obviously targeted to a particular set of viewers.   In other words, the geographic placement of the signs is not intended to be viewed by a general market audience, but is rather targeted to certain ethnic, racial, socio neighborhoods in order to impact a particular audience. 
If one could show that Clear Channel Communications, whether alone or in cooperation with a "private" client, targeted the geographical location of the signs based  on race or ethnicity (data collected from census data or from other sources), would the placement of the signs constitute a hate crime?
If a swastika is spray painted on the front door of a temple - that would be considered a hate crime?
If a swastika is spray painted on a bill board across the street from the front door of a temple - would that be considered a hate crime?
Probably – depending on why that bill board was chosen.
If "KKK" was spray painted on the front door of a Babtist Church on Kinsman Blvd, would that be considered a hate crime?
If "KKK" was spray painted on a bill board across the street from the front door of a Baptist Church on Kinsman Blvd, would that be considered a hate crime?
Probably – depending on why that bill board was chosen.
If I was Eric Holder, I would make an inquiry regarding the data used in the selection of the bill board locations.   If data can be demonstrated that the bill boards were consciously directed to the attention of a particular race and or ethic group with the motive  of intimidation with the goal of reducing voting by that race or group,  wouldn't this be a large scale hate crime  under our civil rights statutes?
Maybe, if a hate crime is really broad, then that "speech" is protected by the difficulty of proving motive.   I would bet that that is what Clear Channel  is counting on.



Cleveland billboard map developed by Eric Fischer/Josh Harkinson


Location of "VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY!" billboards in Cleveland Eric Fischer/Josh Harkinson

Published HERE at Mother Jones

No real prop, Taxes paid on Voter Fraud billboard - Eller Media


Signs are considered personal (business) property in Ohio.  See Ohio Department of Taxation here.   Eller Media is a subsidiary of Clear Channel Outdoor.   Neither Eller Media nor Clear Channel are obligated to pay any real property (many states define billboards as real property - review very informative Oregon Department of Revenue billboard info at Google Docs here) or personal property taxes on the revenue generating billboard.  

Seems inequitable to me.  The tax laws in Ohio allow huge 6 second changing digital electronic signs - like along the interstate highways, to generate millions of dollars of revenue for Clear Channel - with no state taxes paid.    Bizzarre.

Gov. Taft signed legislation in 2005 which phased out personal property taxes for businesses.    Schools are now paying for the loss in revenue.  This is what lobbies do best - get legislation passed just for them.  Railroads, telecomm, outdoor advertizing.     Cool move guys. This is how our elected reps work for us at the State House.   

This commercial revenue generating sign on a vacant commercial lot in Cleveland, Ohio, with a total annual tax bill of $128.20 (which has been paid)  is a prime example of why NEO has, is and will continue to fall behind.   But this is not a situation limited just to Ohio.    Corportations will corrupt every demoncratic legislative body.    Just observe...   

Democracy and Corporations cannot co-exist.    Corporations are the powerful people, and people are weak.   Corporations will always trample on people because they must .... Corporations must drive profit, and corporate profit and the weak people's interests are usually mis-alligned.

 This tax discussion - I was curious if there was a weak underbelly -  is a digression from the real issue here - the real issue is can a public billboard  ad campaign be a hate crime?  Please think about the Eric Fischer census map in the comment above.   That's where the crowd sourcing energy should go....Thanks


Does City of Cleveland issue billboard permits?

 Are the Clear Channel billboards which carry the Voter Fraud message permitted by the City of Cleveland?  Do they need to be?  Is there an annual permit fee? any fee?   Or has the City under Mr. Sweeney just gone wild west with regard to billboards?  


Link us up, please.   Thanks, Jeff

Billboards coming down


per PeeDee reporter......


CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Clear Channel Outdoor will remove 30 billboards across the city that drew complaints of racism and intimidation with their message of "Voter fraud is a felony," the company said Saturday night.

Jim Cullinan, a spokesman for Clear Channel Outdoor, said the billboards will come down immediately. He said the company continues its donation of 10 other billboards that will have messages to counter the offending ones.

City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, who objected to the billboards and helped lead the push for others to respond to them, called Clear Channel's decision "fantastic news."

"That's a wonderful resolution to this issue," she said.


are red light / speed cameras racist in Cleveland?

Here is a map from www.lawyerscommittee.org

The map overlays the census tract ethnicity of minorities with the voter suppression billboard locations chosen by Clear Channel.

If a map of the red light/speed cameras in Cleveland were overlayed on this map, would the result be racist?



Racist - yes...

Voter FRAUD sign coverage





It's so sad that all the politicians that commented here are so very racist and have such low self esteem! So sad! 
All they see is color, and no common sense or respect for the intelligence of Clevelanders. This sign is no different from "IT'S A FELONY TO ROB A BANK". It's only a problem if you participate in the crime!  
Now for the sign placement listed: 
Carnegie & E 36th - commuters going downtown and college students 
Cedar Ave. NS and E 79th. - Cleveland Clinic area 
Community College Ave and E 35th - College students 
E 14th St. and Carnegie Ave. - Downtown visitors 
W 140th St and Lorain Ave - Westpark where many city employees live 
Triskett Rd and W 140th St - Isn't Ward 19 mostly white? 
Madison Ave and W 93 St - Heavy Hispanic influence

Voter Fraud signs - who owns land, who mows? who pays taxes?

 It would be interesting to have images showing how each of the signs Imcshane has listed in the comment above are situated.

Are the signs on empty lots or are they on a building?

Who owns the land and maintains the land on which the signs are situated?

Are the taxes paid on the land? Who has paid the taxes?

What if the Clear Channel signs were vestigial - Clear Channel collecting advertizing revenue from land for which taxes had not been paid?

Could this happen in Cleveland?

If anyone has a moment - take an image of any of the signs you see - include the land in the image - and post the image here or email them to me - just click on my name to bring up an email link - you must be logged in as a user to email - 

 And then the next step will be to run the address of the sign lot through the Cuyahoga County tax website to see ownership and tax status.

Thanks for your help.



voter fraud and intimidation

In all of these locations, the neighborhood is lower income.

W. 140th and Lorain has a storefront that has been rented in the past for Democratic candidate office space. The area has a growing Hispanic and Arab American population. I will check out the sign there this week and the land owner.

I do note that these signs are not in the heart of Kamm's Corner, or the Shaker/Cleveland border.