‘Yes on 5’ signage in the clear, Blau says

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Signs like this one have popped up all over Vineyard Haven. -Rich Saltzberg

Updated 11/8

Purple banners and signs have appeared around Vineyard Haven in support of a yes vote on a ballot question that would permit alcohol to be served in town without food. The banners ask for a yes vote on Nov. 8 but give no indication of who is behind the initiative. No ballot committee has registered at the local or state level, according to town and state officials. Tisbury Town Clerk Hilary Conklin told The Times she has had trouble pinning down who is behind the signage. 

“After many attempts I have not been able to confirm who is promoting this initiative to inform them of their requirements with the Office of Campaign Political Finance,” Conklin emailed. 

However, clues were readily apparent on social media. 

In an Oct. 26 Facebook post on local restaurateur JB Blau’s page, he asked, “Do you have a high traffic facing window in Tisbury and would like to support and hang a YES ON 5 poster? Please message me and I’ll deliver. Thanks!”

In an Oct. 25 Facebook post on Blau’s page read, “Today while handing out ‘VOTE YES ON 5 posters I had 7 stores tell me they sent people to OB for a drink TODAY.  VOTE yes on 5 and KEEP PEOPLE IN TISBURY!”

Conklin said on Monday she’d reached out to Blau but has not gotten a response. Blau couldn’t be reached on Monday. The Times inadvertently sent a text message to a landline.

However, on Tuesday Blau reached out and clarified the situation. 

“In mid October, prior to learning the number we would receive on the ballot, I called the state election finance representative in Boston and had a long chat about regulations and acceptable spending on a ballot question,” Blau texted The Times. “There was a $250 limit for personal purchases that does not require any reporting. On personal property there is no reporting required at all. I personally financed the printing of the 50 small paper posters and distributed them to friends in town who wanted to hang them in their windows. [Five] individuals purchased Yes on 5 banners and erected them on their private property in town. Everything was done to the state election standards and zero reporting was required.”

Blau said he would have offered clarification sooner but messages didn’t get through to him. He also said he’s notified Conklin that there’s no reporting requirement in this situation.

Jason Tait, spokesman for the Office of Campaign Finance, confirmed the $250 threshold Blau mentioned. He also shared the pertinent regulatory section:

“Any person who makes an expenditure of $250 or more other than a contribution to a ballot question committee or incurs a liability of $250 or more to influence or affect the vote on any question submitted to the voters shall file reports setting forth the amount or value of the expenditure or liability, together with the date, purpose and full name of the person to whom the expenditure was made or the liability incurred.”

Updated with comments from Blau and to correct that The Times attempted to text him on a landline.

3 COMMENTS

  1. There isn’t a more shameless self promoter on the island than JB Blau. I’ve never seen him go all out promoting anything that doesn’t have something ($$) in it for him, including his ceaseless promoting of the housing bank and BRW. He blocked me on Facebook for calling out his self-interested antics on Islanders Talk, but he can’t block me here. Thank you MV Times. You’re still community heroes. Loved reading this story and how Blau, a king of social media, is suddenly unavailable for comment. He does have a cult following, though, so brace yourselves.

    I don’t know if he’s behind this arrogantly unauthorized push for Yes on 5, but I’ll eat my hat if he doesn’t at least know who is.

    I already voted. It was a NO.

    • Well you certainly know how to grind your axe, Jackie. Maybe next time you can add another paragraph or two of extra drama.

  2. Oh look, it’s my good friend Jackie! Hi!! You’ll see the new article in a moment or two, but I’m sorry to disappoint you Jackie…we spoke with the State in mid October and had them approve all the purchases for the 50 printed signs and the 6 banners. Everything was done within election regulations and zero reporting was required. Nobody texted me yesterday and I saw the voicemails today and called them immediately to explain the State rules. Cheers!!

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