When was the last time you thanked your local code enforcement officer?

Probably never. Most homeowners hide in their basements at the mere mention of the title.

But today we honor William Butler, assistant code enforcement officer for the city of Rockland – a man who believes in following the law, even if it means getting run over by the Trump Train.

“I try to go as straight ahead as possible,” Butler said in an interview, one of many he’s given to the media this week. “I look at what the code says and stick to the code and not try to get off on too many tangents.”

Meaning he has no personal or political beef with Susan Reitman, whose home on dead-end Seavey Lane is adorned with two large signs: “I (red, white and blue heart) Donald Trump” and “He Won … Get Over It!”

Butler wants Reitman to take down the signs – but not because they’re too pro-Trump.


They’re too big.

The problem is, Reitman’s not budging.

“Look, I’m a 75-year-old widow living on a fixed income,” Reitman said in a telephone interview from her home. “There is no way I could ever pay that $100-a-day or that $1,000-a-day fine. He can put a lien on my house – I have two mortgages. He can take my house. He can put me in jail or whatever. To me it’s the principle of the thing, you know?”‘

Did she say she’d go to jail? Over a couple of Trump signs?

“Yes, I would. Yes, I would,” Reitman replied. “I know you probably think I’m crazy.”

Let’s go with “passionate.” In a previous chat with cable network NECN this week, Reitman went so far as to proclaim, “I would lay down my life for Donald Trump!”


Believe it or not, there’s a name for this kind of thing.

Psychologists call it “basking in reflected glory,” or BIRG. Often associated with sports teams, it’s the behavior people exhibit after their side wins and, like it or not, they’re going to make darn sure the rest of the world sees them revel in it.

In other words, the theory goes, “He won … Get Over It!” has at least as much to do with Susan Reitman’s self-image as a Trump supporter as it does her love for Donald Trump. As Trump won last fall, so did Reitman – and she put out her signs to prove it.

At least one neighbor, who complained anonymously, sees it a little differently. No Trump fan, she’s told Butler that she thinks the sign is aimed – both figuratively and literally – at her.

(In an odd twist, Butler divulged that the complaining neighbor has a son who’s a pilot and once worked for Trump. Meaning we now have one neighbor who would die for Trump pitted against another neighbor whose son would fly for Trump. Back to the action …)

Being a good civil servant who’s spent decades enforcing codes for four Maine municipalities and the Department of Environmental Protection, Butler wants no part of this political cage match.


His only concern is the city’s sign ordinance, which requires that residential properties be limited to one sign no larger than 2 square feet if affixed to a structure or 4 square feet if it’s freestanding.

Both of Reitman’s signs, which she estimates at 3 by 4 feet, far exceed those maximums. Big league.

“I know I’m not in compliance. I know that,” Reitman conceded. “My point is that he had all the opportunity in the world to tell me that I was not in compliance. He saw the signs. I told him about them.”

She did it once in an email last month in which she announced her plans for the signs. Butler recalls the email but said it was so laden with “pro-Trump political” stuff that the mention of the signs flew right past him.

The second came during a site visit Butler made recently to Reitman’s property to discuss her plans for a new fence. The signs were actually up by then, but Butler, unsure of what the heretofore obscure residential sign ordinance actually said, decided to go back and research it before causing a brouhaha.

Then the neighbor complained, forcing Butler to take action. And with that, a cause was born.


We won’t repeat the content of the voicemails left on the code enforcement office phone by callers who support Reitman and think the world would be a lot better off without Butler.

“They were vulgar, rude,” Butler recalled. “And they suggested (pause) that they didn’t understand (pause) what we were trying to do.”

Sounds like he’s being diplomatic here.

“I’m trying,” he replied.

Smart move. This thing could take a while.

On Thursday, Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell told Courier-Gazette reporter Stephen Betts that the whole thing is on hold until Oct. 2, when the City Council will decide whether the residential sign ordinance needs an upgrade.


Code enforcement officer Butler, for one, thinks that’s a great idea.

“I’m actually hoping that this is a segue to changing the ordinance,” he said.

More help may be coming from another, entirely unexpected direction.

Butler said Thursday that he’d just received a call from someone identifying himself as a member of the “Trump campaign.”

The caller said they’re ready, willing and able to provide Reitman with a compliant Trump sign at no charge – in exchange for the two offending placards she just moved (for safe keeping) from her driveway gate to the front of her house.

And get this: The Trump folks will even try to have the sign signed by Donald Trump himself.


“I think that might satisfy her,” Butler mused, adding that the city would consider waiving its $60 fee for a sign permit as a show of good faith.

How this sits with the angry neighbor will be anyone’s guess. But she too has options – as does anyone in Rockland looking for a way to peacefully shield themselves from all of Trump’s reflected glory.

Cafepress.com, which sold Reitman her signs, is an equal-opportunity offender where Trump opponents – who, according to the shrinks, are suffering from “cutting off reflected failure,” or CORF – can purchase a post-election message all their own.

It sells for a mere $24.95.

It’s easy to read – just black letters on a white background, minus all the fancy-dancy red, white and blue stuff.

And it’s small enough – at least by the city of Rockland’s standards – to plant legally on your front lawn today.

It reads: “Elect a clown, expect a circus.”

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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