Reporter caught pilfering lawn sign

A City Council candidate on the Peninsula is filing charges against a local radio and television personality for stealing his campaign signs.

A Burlingame homeowner said he caught on video Joe McConnell, former traffic reporter for stations such as KGO, the Bay Area ABC affiliate, taking down Gene Condon for City Council signs two nights in a row. Condon and the owner, who did not want to be identified in this story, then followed McConnell to his Burlingame home and called police around 9 p.m., when McConnell admitted taking one sign.

McConnell’s wife, Geraldine O’Connor, is the chairwoman of the Committee to Elect Jerry Deal, one of Condon’s four opponents for two vacant council spots.

“It’s true. I took one of the signs [Monday] night,” said McConnell, who denied taking signs at any point other than Monday night. He said he only took down this sign because it was put on a house’s lawn in a way that blocked one of Deal’s signs, and that he later regretted doing it.

Condon, however, claims the sign they caught McConnell with had just been put up. More than 30 signs are missing from the area, which cost about $5 each, Dan Andersen of the Committee to Elect Condon said.

Burlingame police obtained the surveillance video but did not cite McConnell on Monday, although Condon said he would press charges.

Condon was still in “shock” Tuesday. He believes McConnell has been pulling signs “for weeks” in the area where he was caught him Monday.

“You don’t expect it,” Condon said. “This wasn’t a classy move and it didn’t show a lot of common sense on his part.”

Deal, who first learned about the sign stealing from reporters, said his signs are stolen regularly. McConnell said police told him this type of activity, dubbed sign wars, happens every campaign season.

McConnell, however, did offer a truce to the feud.

“I’ll leave his signs alone if he leaves me alone,” McConnell said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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