Friday, July 29, 2011

Naming rights and wrongs

The thing I liked best about Mitt Romney as governor was that he refused to put his name on signs throughout the state.  You know, like the ones that say "Welcome to Massachusetts" as you cross the border. Why? Well, he felt that those signs were public property, not private bulletin boards for elected politicians trying to get more name recognition.  He also, I think, was offended by the idea of spending public money every time a new person was elected governor.

This is very unusual.  I recently drove through a number of states, and at virtually every border crossing, I saw the governor's name attached to the welcome sign.  Like this one:

In times of tight budgets, why are we spending taxpayer money on this kind of self-aggrandizement?  But even in more prosperous times, why should any elected person's name be placed in a public way like this?

Shouldn't there be a general rule that the names of elected officials should not be included in signs on public ways?


Mark Graban said...

100% agree that these signs are for the public, not to be used as free campaign posters for the sitting office holder.

When I grew up around Detroit, it was a local joke about how the "Detroit Zoo" had a huge water tower with "Coleman A. Young, Mayor" on it, when the zoo is actually located outside the city limits.

I was working in Illinois during the Blago scandal. It was actually satisfying to drive under a tollway sign that was actually being changed over to have Blago's name taken down... so maybe there can be some value to these signs? :-)

Nah, I say no politician names on signs. That's the stuff of tin-pot dictatorships, not democracy.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it kind of reminds one of the ubiquitous visual reminders of certain totalitarian dictators in their countries, like Lenin and Mao.
However, in the hospital where I worked, there was a giant, lavishly framed painting of the hospital CEO/President in the most prominent spot in the lobby. I always thought that, too, was a poor use of nonprofit funds.

nonlocal MD

Thomas Pane said...


In July 2004 I was driving west on Beach Pond Road (Rt. 165) between RI and CT. It was the day Gov. Rowland stepped down and the welcome sign had already been changed. I think it has an interchangeable nameplate, so they don't need a whole new sign each time!


The Detroit Zoo's water tower at least features some nice artwork, but it too needed a revision after some political misdeeds...