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Goodell sign removed but anger persists

October 12, 2010

A large political sign supporting Republican Assembly candidate Andrew Goodell that was placed by mistake on the Route 20 property owned by Patty Cooper and her family has been removed.

That was the word Monday from Goodell, who said the 4 x 8-foot sign that was anchored with a total of six stakes and wiring, was placed by mistake on Cooper's property that is at the southwest corner of Route 20 and King Road. Goodell said he received a phone call Monday morning and made immediate arrangements to have the sign removed from Cooper's property.

"The sign crew made a mistake and put in on somebody else's land," Goodell explained. "It has already been removed."

Article Photos

OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
This large Goodell for Assembly sign was erected on the wrong site Saturday, causing property owner Patty Cooper to wonder where it came from and why. Cooper is supporting Goodell’s opponent, Democrat Nancy Bargar, for the seat being vacated by 28-year Assembly veteran Bill Parment

Goodell said the sign was supposed to go on a property farther down Route 20 near Route 39.

Cooper had gone grocery shopping Saturday afternoon and came back to find the large Goodell sign and a smaller one, as well.

"I was so shocked when I pulled in. I was gone for an hour and a half and it happened sometime between 4:30 and 6 p.m.," Cooper said Sunday. "I pulled in the driveway and said 'what the heck is that thing?' I grabbed my cell phone but I said 'no, I better go in.'"

Cooper, who is supporting Goodell's Democratic opponent Nancy Bargar, said a check with family members found no one had received their permission either.

Cooper was asked if she had tried to contact Goodell.

"I didn't," she replied. "I guess I was too shocked to call anyone."

Cooper, a Republican elections inspector for Sheridan, did call neighbor Terry Niebel, the Sheridan Republican Party chairman. On Sunday, Niebel said he knew nothing of the sign but did say he would look into local ordinances that govern sign size.

On Monday, Goodell said the Republican town chairman did not contact him about the sign, likely because he is supporting Bargar.

Goodell thought he knew why.

"Terry Niebel is supporting my opponent because I previously objected to some of his improper actions when he was the Republican Election Commissioner," he said. "He actually testified on behalf of Democratic Election Commissioner Norm Green, testified at Norm Green's trial that he also engaged in similar activities that the court found violated election law.

"I am very pleased that we have a new Republican election commissioner (Brian Abrams) who scrupulously follows the law in every respect. There is no room for fraud or corruption in either party."

Niebel answered the Republican candidate's comments by saying it was a typical Goodell response.

"Nothing is ever his fault and if it is he tries to confuse people by bringing up things that are totally unrelated to the issue," he stated. "However, if Mr. Goodell wants to bring up his problems with me, I might note that many Republicans, including myself, have a problem with Mr. Goodell's record. It clearly shows that he at times not only exercises poor judgment but takes actions that border on the bizarre.

"For example, no matter how he tries to spin it, it was Goodell's idea to send state tax agents into Pennsylvania to photograph Chautauqua County license plates at shopping centers and then send tax letters to an estimated 800-1,000 county residents. While Mr. Goodell may question my ethics, I would question his when he registers his opponent's domain name - - and then denies it until it was proven."

Niebel said there was a reason Goodell lost his 1997 county executive re-election bid by over 4,000 votes.

"The reason - his record - and the fact that the only thing that overshadows his ego is his arrogance," Niebel concluded.

Cooper called the Chautauqua County Sheriff's office Sunday to report the sign due to her concerns about traffic safety at the intersection. Deputy Wayne Ashley responded and filed a Sheriff's Department Form 106, a violation for trespassing, after the Sheriff's Dispatch Center was unable to contact the Goodell campaign.

"We had a garage sale here once and it was dangerous so we never had them here anymore," Cooper said of the intersection site. "We have them in the back now. People dart out of here all the time."

Goodell said he would call the Coopers to extend his apologies for the signage mistake.

"If a sign is put on somebody's property by mistake, and it can happen to either party, they should call my office at 664-4705 and we'll make arrangements to have it removed," Goodell said. "If somebody wants a sign we'll make arrangements to deliver one for them."

Goodell and Bargar are competing for an open Assembly seat due to the retirement of William Parment. The Harmony Democrat has held the seat for the last 28 years.

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