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Anderson Resident Gets Creative with Unwelcome Political Sign

  • Smith Reelection Campaign Summons Police after Seeing Homeowner’s Handiwork
  • City Official Apologizes for Unlawful Sign Slipup
  • Victim Sees No Difference between Smith, Ockomon
  • Two-Thirds of Mayor’s Salary Illegally Diverted from City Utilities

Political Sign ‘A Slap in the Face’

When Robert Walser came home from work to find a politician’s super-sized sign in his yard, “it felt like a slap in the face,” he told the Madison County ALERT.

A "Private Property No Trespassing" sign fails to deter a city official from erecting without permission a large sign in the yard of an Anderson resident.

A “Private Property No Trespassing” sign fails to deter a city official from erecting without permission a large sign in the yard of an Anderson resident.

Someone from Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith’s reelection campaign had erected a sign measuring 8 feet wide by 4 feet tall in Walser’s yard without permission. Walser pointed to his weathered “No Trespassing” sign in plain view and visible to anyone entering his property. He said he placed the sign there last year to discourage gang members from loitering while he is away from home.

As for the Kevin Smith political sign, “I feel embarrassed and humiliated by it. It’s the size of a small billboard,“ Walser said, who now opposes the embattled, non-consecutive two-term Anderson mayor seeking a third term.

Mayor Kevin Smith tries some humor with Gov. Mike Pence (R) in this 2012 photo.

Mayor Kevin S. Smith shares a humorous remark with Gov. Mike Pence (R) in this 2012 photo.

Four years ago, Walser supported Smith, but now sees no difference between Smith and former Mayor Kris Ockomon. He said that both mayors sought higher taxes and utility rates during their terms, while the level of public services has remained stagnant or worsened.

He also showed the ALERT photographs of a botched repair job by the water department that left his yard visibly damaged. Calls for the city to repair the damage went unanswered.

“After they destroyed my yard, Mayor Smith has the nerve to send me a photocopied letter saying my yard looks so nice. I had to spend money to fix what they did,” he said.

With the Smith sign on display along the busy stretch of Madison Avenue, a passing motorist slowed to make an obscene gesture to us while conducting this interview with the ALERT. “My neighbors must think I’ve lost my mind for having that sign in my yard,” he said.

“My neighbors must think I’ve lost my mind for having that (Smith) sign in my yard.”
— Robert Walser, Anderson resident

“They trespassed onto my property and defamed my character. I want to send a message of my own,” Walser said. He enlisted the help of a friend who gave him the idea to affix removable red tape to the sign illegally placed in his yard.

“A big red ‘X’ and the words ‘Never Again’ come to mind. Red tape is perfect,” the friend said. “It doesn’t permanently damage the sign, but it expresses dissatisfaction with Mayor Smith’s failure in keeping his campaign promises.“

Police Summoned, City Official Offers Apology for Sign

After moving the sign safely away from the street, they began crafting Walser’s distinctive message. However, with the sign gone from its original roadside placement, its temporary absence quickly caught the attention of the Smith campaign.

Within 20 minutes of the sign being moved to the side of the house, a member of the Smith campaign entered the property, as observed by the Madison County ALERT, and confronted Walser and his friend about the sign. Walser repeatedly told the Smith staffer to leave and notified him of a second criminal trespass violation by the Smith campaign.

“He was arrogant and acted like he didn’t have to abide by my wishes for him to leave, but I’m the property owner,” Walser said.

The Smith campaign staffer is seen trespassing and seizing property from the Walser residence after being ordered to leave earlier that afternoon.

The Smith campaign staffer is seen trespassing and seizing property from the Walser residence after being ordered to leave minutes earlier.

Anderson police arrived 10 minutes later accompanied by the Smith campaign staffer. While Walser was being questioned by police, the Smith campaign staffer reentered Walser’s property without permission and seized the unfinished sign from a walkway between the home and the garage. The man then placed the sign into in his vehicle illegally parked facing oncoming traffic in the northbound lane of Madison Avenue.

City of Anderson Board of Public Safety Chairman Bruce Dunham

City of Anderson Board of Public Safety Chairman Bruce Dunham

The next to arrive on the scene was City of Anderson Board of Public Safety Chairman Bruce Dunham. The police officer, the Smith campaign staffer, and Dunham approached the homeowner standing in his driveway. Dunham admitted that he had erected the sign unlawfully while the homeowner was at work.

The discussion quickly escalated into an argument as Walser also accused Dunham of trespassing. Dunham apologized but Walser seemed unsatisfied with the words.

“(T)he Smith campaign used the Anderson Police Department firsthand as their own personal militia.”
—Robert Walser

WALSER: “You people have trespassed repeatedly on my property!”

DUNHAM: “Look, I said I’m sorry!”

WALSER: “Bruce (Dunham), your apology is not accepted!”

Walser then forcefully turned his back to the men. Dunham suddenly stepped toward Walser from behind as if to position himself physically to restrain Walser.

Walser turned abruptly and shouted at Dunham: “Step back, Bruce! Don’t you come near me, and don’t you or your family ever set foot on my property again!”

The tension ended without incident, and the trio returned to their vehicles facing the wrong way, holding up traffic, along Madison Avenue.

Police and two Smith campaign vehicles are parked facing the wrong direction in the northbound lane of Madison Avenue.

Police and two Smith campaign vehicles are parked facing the wrong direction in the northbound lane of Madison Avenue in Anderson.

“You just saw how the Smith campaign used the Anderson Police Department firsthand as their own personal militia,” Walser said.

A 2014 Indiana State Board of Accounts audit revealed that two-thirds of the city council and mayor’s salaries is being diverted from Anderson City Utilities, a violation of state law.

A 2014 Indiana State Board of Accounts audit revealed that two-thirds of the city council and mayor’s salaries is being diverted from Anderson City Utilities, a violation of state law.

Since 2012, Bruce Dunham has served part-time on the Board of Public Safety at Mayor Kevin Smith’s leisure. In 2014, he received compensation from the city totaling $17,386.08, exceeding that received by Anderson city council members by $3,938.10.

As cited in a 2014 Indiana State Board of Accounts audit, two-thirds of the city council and mayor’s salaries is being diverted from Anderson City Utilities, in violation of state law, IC 8-1.5-3-11. It is not known how much of Dunham’s salary is derived from customer utility payments for electric, water and sewage services.

Last year, Dunham lost a bid to become Madison County sheriff, losing to Scott Mellinger by a 3,576-vote margin.

Starting over in Anderson

Former Anderson Mayor Kris Ockomon (D)

Future’s So Bright? Former Anderson Mayor Kris Ockomon (D) is eyeing a return to the mayor’s office.

Robert Walser and his wife, Tracey, moved to Anderson during the term of Mayor Kris Ockomon and quickly became unhappy with the mayor’s support for a county option income tax, the trash fee, and higher water rates. “Four years ago, things were going downhill, so I said ‘Let’s support Kevin Smith,’” he said.

Initially, they thought the city seemed to be getting better, but over time, the push for higher taxes and utilities continued. They now accuse Smith of cronyism, hiring campaign workers for city jobs, and ignoring the needs of the community.

“As a mayor of a community like this, you’ve got to look out for the people. That’s your job. The people hired you to do a job. Kevin Smith is only looking out for his own self interests,” he said.

This 2012 photo provided by Robert & Tracey Walser show the city water department's finished repairs to his meter.

This 2012 photo provided by Robert & Tracey Walser show the city water department’s finished repairs to his meter.

Adding to their frustrations was when the water department dug up his yard to repair a meter and left the job unfinished. In recent weeks, the water department has made local news headlines with reports of ruptured gas lines while attempting water line repairs.

Anderson Board of Works Chairman, Peter Heuer

Anderson Board of Works Chairman, Peter Heuer

“The water company came out and destroyed my yard,” Robert said. He alerted the mayor who then passed the problem to Board of Public Works Chairman Peter Heuer. “I never heard anything from anybody about it. Is this the way we’re going to treat our citizens?”

Adding insult to injury, they received a mass-produced thank-you card from the mayor’s office for maintaining a beautiful yard.

The pre-printed thank-you cards were not personally signed by Mayor Kevin Smith.

The pre-printed thank-you cards were not personally signed by Mayor Kevin Smith.

“How would you feel about receiving something that was stamped and not handwritten? We need to care about our citizens to take the time to actually say ‘thank you’ personally,” he said.

When asked about the city’s efforts to battle unemployment, Robert disagrees with the mayor’s overseas trips.

“All it’s going to create is $10 an hour jobs. I can go to McDonald’s and make $10 an hour,” he said. “You can’t work at McDonald’s just to eat at Taco Bell.”

Every year, Robert and Tracey give back to the community by sharing produce from their backyard community garden, giving away fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers to their west side neighbors. They look forward to growing food again this year. “I just want to do my garden, give my stuff away, and give free flowers,” Tracey said.

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{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Michael Alan Bridges Friday, October 30, 2015, 10:10 pm

    It seems like to me that the state poice should now be involved with dirty campaign tactics, and police now becoming partisan, with multiple trespass offenses, the sign should have been destroyed by homeowner and he should sue the Smith campaign for putting it there illegally. Further he should push for a change of venue as the corrupt court system here in town can’t be trusted to even fill out it’s paperwork on time before passing rulings….Time to shut down the good ol boy network in this town, that is the only way we will ever get ahead as a city….

  • William Passmore Monday, October 5, 2015, 6:40 am

    I sent Kevin an email asking why he put Stephon Blackwell who use to work for the Sheriff’s Dept drug task force in charge of the Parks Dept when I made him aware he robbed lots of people. Kevin’s secretary is a witness. And why did he put Larry Crenshaw in the position of Chief of police? Larry should be charged with obstruction of justice. Larry’s brother, which I know wanted me to extort Kevin and his brother — I refused. Then Larry’s brother threatened to kill me over the email after Larry told him about the email. I’m an ex-organized crime member working for GOD one day at a time. I give GOD all the GLORY for using me. I chased the small fire truck and a police car down Broadway at the same time after dark with no emergency lights at a high rate of speed after it picked up a thug who was trying to get me. His name is Donnie Edwards is what he claimed, I do know for a fact he knows Emma Buckley. GOD IS GREAT. Like I asked you in email also, I hear you, Kevin, and Larry are doing cocaine. Pray for these people plus look at change.org Anderson for a petition someone else started ….. and look up ‘attention Anderson Indiana’ on YouTube, another story ……. and also I know for a fact we have a few cops who are serial killers. Only GOD can keep you safe. Get close and stay away from crooked cops. They are trying to kill witnesses against them. You been warned.

  • Concerned Andersonian Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 11:15 am

    Maybe we should be asking who was Dunham’s campaign manager during his first run for sherriff? Oh, it was his cousin Anderson Attorney Stephan Schuyler, whom “allegedly” stole OVER 100k from one of his clients estates. (That they know of, so far) Is he behind bars? Nope, just another example how knowing the mayor, Bruce Dunham and their “cronies” helps one out in this town. They think they are above the law.

  • Chris Nealis Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 10:12 am

    The words “holes” and “ass” come to mind. Not sure which order those go in, so I’ll let fellow commenters decide. 😉

    • Michael Alan Bridges Friday, October 30, 2015, 10:06 pm

      well said young Nealis!

  • marvin hester Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 8:16 am

    If he would have come on my property is have kicked his a@$

  • Eli~Marc Ellis Grossman Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 8:42 pm

    After the incident that occurred back in 2012 courtesy of the scum of the Anderson Police Department I will never trust the Anderson cops again. This story sounds very much familiar to what William Ray (officer of the APD) had done to me, with the exception of the fact that I had spent a night in jail. Bruce Dunham, Kevin Smith, and William Ray you are all scum of the worst kind. You take innocent people and harass them because you have the power to do so, I sincerely hope that one day you get to suffer the pain that all of you have inflicted onto me, my family, and other people like Robert Walser. None of you are serving the public, you are a bunch of cotton headed nincompoops that take pleasure in the pain you inflict on other.

  • Michael A Bridges Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 7:46 pm

    complaint should be filed against officer for non enforcement of the law/dereliction of duty, Staffer should be cited with criminal trespass, sign should have been destroyed prior to it being removed. dunham should be charged with criminal trespass and intimidation….just because you are the party in power, doesn’t mean you don’t have to obey (or enforce) the law….

  • JoAnne Grossman Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 6:49 pm

    And now you see why I don’t trust the cops, Bruce Dunham or the “mayor” of this town- Dunham shows in this incident the same lack of care for the VICTIMS vs the CRIMINALS as he and the entire force did to us……instead they reward the criminals (in our case it was the cop as well as the law breaking neighbor) and punish the victims for trying to do the right thing. I will never forget what Bruce Dunham, Kevin Smith, Willy Ray and the rest of the police force did to our family- never!!

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