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School Committee member accused of stealing election opponent's placards

November 4, 1999

By Marie Blanchard

Newton police say they confiscated political signs for School Committee hopeful Brenda Loew in her opponent's car Saturday.

Police said Monday that they found 11 of Loew's signs in Susan Heyman's car while they were responding to a road rage incident between Heyman, her husband Ken Heyman and Newton resident Lise Rubin in front of the police department on Saturday afternoon.

"The race is getting hot," said Anastasia, adding that this is the first time he's seen an incident like Saturday's during his 15 years on the police force.

Heyman - who defeated Loew to retain the Ward 5 School Committee seat in Tuesday's voting - said on Monday that she and her husband had simply gotten fed up with seeing signs for Loew on public spaces throughout the city and had decided to take down some of the signs and bring them to the police department.

According to Heyman, Rubin saw the couple "removing some signs on Crafts Street" and tried to block their car and then followed the couple to the police station.

Once at the station, Anastasia said police "responded to a road rage incident" and after speaking to Rubin, removed the signs from the Heymans' car and informed the couple "it was illegal to remove the signs."

"My husband and I were very upset, and we decided to bring the signs to the police department to ask for their assistance in enforcing the [sign] ordinance," said Heyman.

She added that she and her husband declined to press charges against Rubin for the altercation in front of the police station.

"The signs that I brought to the police department were illegally placed," said Heyman. "I honestly believed I was within my rights [taking them down], as long as I didn't keep them."

Political signs are not allowed on public property, said Inspectional Services Commissioner Joe Latronica.

"If we get a complaint, or see a violation of the sign ordinance, we give a phone call to the campaign headquarters and inform them of what we have observed," said Latronica. "We tell them a reasonable time to comply and if someone refuses, we have the ability to ticket them."

Latronica said he didn't know anything about Saturday's incident, but he said that his department had gotten several calls about signs in public spaces earlier in the week.

Though Rubin was unavailable to comment, police said on Monday that she had told them that the signs were taken off private property - which is illegal under Newton's sign ordinance.

According to police reports, Brenda Loew called the police department at 8:30 p.m. to report that 30 of her political signs were missing, at which point police returned the 11 signs they had taken from the Heymans' car.

They also told Loew if she wanted to press charges, she could go to Newton District Court.

Calling the situation "serious," Loew refused to answer any questions on whether she would seek a criminal complaint against Heyman. She referred all inquiries to her lawyer, Elliott Loew, who is also her brother.

Elliott Loew said on Wednesday morning that he had filed an application for a criminal complaint against the Heymans over the incident and that a hearing had been set in Newton District Court for Nov. 15.

"Someone, somewhere will have to determine whether taking signs [off of public property], is against the law," said Elliott Loew, adding that his client will not use the incident to contest the results of Tuesday's School Committee election.

"This campaign should be about schools and kids," said Heyman on Monday. "Now it's about signs ... it's been about everything else but what it's supposed to be about ... It's unfair to all of us when one person doesn't play by the rules, and [Loew] hasn't been playing by the rules for quite some time."

Copyright 1995-1999, Community Newspaper Company. All rights reserved.

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