O  ne thing I've learned, after having written somewhere around 5,000 columns, many of them having to do with politics, politicians or something having to do with elections or government, is it's usually a good thing when I don't hear from politicians.

For one thing, I didn't want to be their buddies.

For another, I didn't want them to think a juicy wet kiss was going to result in my writing something complimentary about them at some point down the road.

And for yet another, some -- but certainly not all -- politicians can be the biggest whiners in the world. They too often think I should be their public relations agent, and they whine and bellyache if I say, or even suggest, something less than glowing about them.

There are exceptions, of course, former York County Commissioner Bob Minnich, for example. He never complained, never called, never held a grudge, never felt the need to have the last word. He was not accusatory. He was not vitriolic. He never even asked for a clarification, even if he thought something wasn't exactly right.

Minnich had broad shoulders and could take a hit without feeling he had to get even. I respected that about him.

The same could be said, too, (so far) about York City Mayor Kim Bracey. I've said some nice things about her; I've written some things she almost certainly didn't like. But she never felt the need to respond to me personally.

She might have sworn a blue streak in the confines of her office, but she never took me to task once. She might have blasted me to the moon and back with political associates, friends and acquaintances, but she never got in my face -- on the phone, in writing or in person. Not once in 31/2 years.

Until last Monday.

And even then, she was not snarly or adversarial.

Very pleasant, in fact.

And then two hours later, Candice Robinson, Mayor Bracey's campaign manager in her re-election effort, called.

Another first, and she also was very informative and pleasant.

They were both responding to my column published Monday -- "Signs of the political times" -- having to do with missing campaign signs in certain areas of York City and in Hallam Borough.

The point of the column was that Mayoral candidate Carol Hill-Evans, a Democrat, was having a difficult time keeping up with the theft/removal/destruction of her campaign signs out in the Fireside area of the city.

I blamed political thieves and/or political tricksters for the missing signs.

And I said it rubbed me the wrong way -- "unsportsmanlike" was the word I used.

It's also worthy of note that I didn't mention Mayor Bracey's name in the column. I intentionally avoided using her name because I didn't want anyone to think I was blaming her for the missing signs.

I wasn't. I think she knows that.

But she and her campaign manager did have an interesting point of view on the campaign sign situation. One that I hadn't considered.

And it's this: Perhaps Hill-Evans' signs weren't on display along Pennsylvania and Roosevelt avenues because property owners didn't support her candidacy.

Maybe property owners, who ultimately have the final say about what's placed in their yards because it's private property, didn't want to support Hill-Evans and removed the signs for that reason.

If so, it's entirely legal for property owners to do that.

So maybe -- just maybe -- the campaign signs disappeared because property owners removed them, not political wrong-doers.

OK, I concede the point. That could be the case. I didn't actually go door to door in Fireside and ask property owners if they removed Hill-Evans' signs, while leaving Bracey's and Kevin Schreiber's signs standing.

To me it was just more obvious than that.

But maybe not.

I never accused Bracey or her campaign of stealing campaign signs. For what it's worth, I don't think she would have done that.

And Bracey was quick to say she's missing some campaign signs, too. And, yes, they are expensive to replace.

"I didn't realize what a war they (campaign signs) could be," Bracey said. "But they have been."

So I guess what I'm saying is Hill-Evans' signs are missing. A bunch of them. Bracey's too, apparently. Maybe they're sitting in the bottom of a Dumpster somewhere, or riding in the trunk of someone's car or, I suppose, sitting in the garage of one or more homeowners out in the Fireside development.

That's a lot of maybes.

No matter how and why it happened, the campaign signs are missing.

For whatever reason, they shouldn't be.

So vote Tuesday, and put an end to all this madness.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.