Thursday, April 19, 2012

Astroturf or Grassroots Lawn Signs in the 5th St. No-Man’s Land? (136)

On Wednesday, April 18, lawn signs reading “. . . Souza for . . . Council” appeared on the front yards of many of the student rentals lining 5th Street between F and Miller.

Had this mass flowering of political preference taken place in almost any other location in Davis, I would say it showed the grassroots fervor of the people living in the homes. The residents of each home had individually sought out and put up each sign.

But, the signs along 5th St. are in the front yards of student rentals in a zone I have described as the “5th Street No-Man’s Land” (post #95, November 20, 2011).

Here is how I described that “land” in my previous post:

And I say further:

These features and what I otherwise know about rentals and renters on this stretch of 5th Street make me doubt that the (1) signs were requested by the people who live in the houses or (2) that they express resident preferences among candidates for Davis City Council (if they have an interest in or knowledge of that race at all).

Instead, I theorize that we are seeing a miniature version of astroturfing, the full-scale version of which is corporation “conceived, created and/or funded” simulations of grassroots citizen groups.

In this case, to what degree was the landlord of each of these properties instrumental in placing the signs on these lawns?   
Addendum: For whatever reasons, signs in this “land” are also vandalized and stolen with some frequency. In the last election cycle, the astroturf signs at 503 F were hassled so often that someone affixed them to plywood boards clamped to metal fence posts driven into the ground, as shown below. This year, one sign had already disappeared by the second day they were put up.