Nurse staffing campaign placards stolen and vandalizedAlexi Cohan Sunday, October 07, 2018
As the debate heats up on the Question 1 nurse staffing ballot initiative and the Nov. 6 election creeps closer, some people are starting to play dirty.
Question 1, which proposes mandated limits on the number of patients assigned to registered nurses in Massachusetts hospitals, has voters and the medical community divided. Adding to the tension is alleged vandalism and intentional destruction of campaign lawn signs.
Dan Cence, spokesman for the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety, said the issue is a statewide problem.
The Coalition to Protect Patient Safety is leading the opposition to Question 1 and it has printed and distributed signs across Massachusetts urging residents to vote “No on 1” at the election.
“We have reports from around the state of people having their signs vandalized,” Cence said. “When stuff like this happens, we just try to replace them.”
Cence said although natural wear and tear of lawn signs during a campaign cause some to come down, this campaign has seen the loss of “hundreds” of signs.
Cence points to the influence of the internet and said some people use social media to “brag” about throwing away campaign signs.
“This is ridiculous, over the edge,” Cence said. “This campaign is different given the influence of social media and the fact that folks are putting pictures of themselves online ostensibly breaking the law,” Cence said.
He estimates each lawn sign costs about $2.
Kate Norton, spokeswoman for the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care, said the “Yes on 1” signs have also seen their bout of vandalism or disposal.
“This is not a new or unique occurrence unfortunately, and in fact it has happened right outside our campaign headquarters, where ‘Yes on 1’ signs have been removed and replaced with ‘No on 1’ signs on multiple occasions. We do hear from our supporters regularly about stolen and vandalized signs, and when an incident arises, we replace the sign and instruct folks to contact their municipal officials to make a complaint,” Norton said in a statement.
Voters who wish to put signs on their lawn can order them for free online from both the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care and the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety. Both campaigns also offer bumper stickers and flyers to voters.
Question 1 supporters point to patient care over profit while opponents say the mandate is too rigid and will take an extensive financial toll on hospitals across the state.