Article Courtesy of The
Palm Beach Post
By Tony Doris
Published March 9, 2021
WEST PALM BEACH — Call it The Case of the Purloined Placards.
An otherwise noncontroversial West Palm Beach city commission race took a
dramatic turn at a shopping center last Saturday, after the challenger's friends
spotted an acquaintance of the incumbent uprooting the challenger's campaign
signs. They got video.
The next night,
District 4 candidate Jonathan Jones' wife was at the same
Publix center off Okeechobee Boulevard when she saw the man
taking more of her husband's signs. She confronted him, took
back the signs and demanded his name. "Mickey Mouse," he
Confident that was not his real name, she whipped out her
phone and took pictures of "Mickey" and his license plate
number before he drove off.
The shopping center showdowns sent West Palm Beach police
rapping on the Andros Isle door of John Mike late Sunday,
candidate Jones hot on their tail. There they found the
72-year-old, a prominent Realtor and homeowners' association
volunteer, with more of Jones' lawn signs.
Jones was all set to take his signs back and drop the
matter. Then he got a call from his son.
His son had found a photo on Facebook of
Mike with incumbent Joe Peduzzi and Mayor Keith James (who
endorsed Peduzzi) and social media messages further
indicating ties between Peduzzi and the admitted
sign-lifter. They'd attended some kind of conference
together and were telling each other how great they were and
somebody was wishing somebody happy birthday, Jones related
to The Post.
Jonathan Jones, candidate for West Palm Beach city
commission District 4.
Had Peduzzi ordered the sign theft, Watergate-style, in a desperate attempt
to secure a victory in the March 9 municipal election?
The affable, AV-rated lawyer, a former reserve cop and volunteer
firefighter, has won the endorsement of hundreds of well-known city and
county officials and residents and has raised more than four times more
money than Jones. Jones, also a personal injury lawyer, is not particularly
well known in the community and skipped several community political forums
that might have changed that.
Peduzzi said he knew Mike from a neighborhood event he once attended but
denied any involvement in the sign caper.
"While the gentleman my opponent accuses is not affiliated with my campaign,
he is someone that I know and respect. I am hoping that this can simply be
attributed to a misunderstanding. Regardless, I do not condone this
activity," Peduzzi wrote in an email to The Palm Beach Post.
"My opponent is more focused on talking about signs than the real issues
facing our city," Peduzzi's email continued. "It’s a distraction. He has yet
to attend a single forum, he skipped the Palm Beach Post interview and
appears to be more focused on negativity and attacks.
"At the start of this process, my opponent and I agreed to run positive
campaigns. I have honored that agreement. Let’s stop with the distractions
and focus on what we can do to improve the lives of our residents. That is
what I strive to do every day, and I would hope that my opponent would do
Mike on Friday said in a phone interview that Peduzzi had nothing to do with
Mike's taking the signs. And while Mike admitted taking them, he insisted he
was not a campaign saboteur.
After the call ended, he rang back to add: "At no point was I disrespectful
or profane to the lady that accosted me. I was polite. There was no
hostility or nastiness or anything like that."
Mike said he's lived in the Andros Isle community for 20 years and knows
that shopping center doesn't allow political signs. "Over the election
cycle, the signs come down almost as soon as they go up," he said. "They
pick them up and throw them out."
On Saturday he saw the Jones signs and noticed they were blank on one side.
Since he helps the Andros Isle homeowners association with events, and knew
there was a "Family Fun Walk" coming up and they needed signs, he saw no
harm in taking four of Jones' signs with blank sides, he said.
He came back to the same shopping center Sunday evening to pick up Chinese
food he'd ordered and saw more signs. "I said, 'these are going to be taken
down by the shopping center and the ladies need more of these.'" He took
That's when Jones' wife "accosted" him. He got his takeout and left,
thinking the matter was over.
"The police knocked at 9 p.m. and told me I was stealing. I gave them the
signs back and apologized and offered to speak with Mr. Jones. After an hour
and a half he did talk to me. I explained all this to him. I’m not a
saboteur for Mr. Peduzzi's campaign."
West Palm Beach police have not filed charges or forwarded the case to the
State Attorney's Office for prosecution.
Jones told police he had videos of the sign-taking from his friends and from
a nearby liquor store security camera, and asked if they wanted to see them.
"Yeah, if it's a murder case," one told him.
On Friday Jones pushed back on Peduzzi's comment that if he wanted voter
support he should have attended neighborhood forums and campaigned in a
positive way, as the two had promised each other they would, over a cup of
coffee several months ago.
"Most of the campaign forums and in-person interviews were canceled because
of the pandemic we are experiencing," Jones countered in an email. "I wish
Commissioner Joe Peduzzi would stop attacking me, take responsibility for
his actions and focus on helping our most vulnerable friends and neighbors
during this historic pandemic we are all experiencing."