This has been coming up more and more lately, as budgets are squeezed – supposedly by the horrid economy. This particular story says that the city of Baltimore is considering putting advertising on the sides of their fire trucks, to help defray the costs of keeping several station houses open. Other stories have told of schools adding soda/snack machines to get the kickbacks, putting up posters in the hallways, selling naming rights to football fields and other school parts to ‘raise money’ for the districts.
I get that budgets are tight. I need look no further (farther?) than my own checkbook to understand this. But is adding a big Pepsi sign to the side of a fire truck the answer? Do we want police cars sponsored by NASCAR? (ok, that NASCAR thing might be cool. Especially if they’re in charge of souping-up the engines of the police cars. That would totally end high-speed chases. But I digress). Putting advertising in schools to further market to kids, who are already probably the MOST marketed-to demographic in our society?
When I see a police car, that vehicle stands out. The clean lines, the Police written on the side…. these are indicators of what it is, and the image portrays security, safety, even respect. How is that image going to be upheld when Pepsi is spattered across the side of the vehicle, likely larger than the type used for Police?
What about the fire truck? I don’t know about your town, but our fire trucks have very little ‘flat space’ on their sides. So, what, we’re supposed to put the ladder up every day and fly a Coke banner?
Here’s an idea… in the attached article, it says that some of the governmental budgets have not been audited for decades. Typical response: it’s too expensive. Really? It’s too expensive to audit your books to eliminate mistakes, and possibly fraud and waste, but it’s perfectly reasonable to sell your town’s Public Services – that are already paid for in good faith by your own taxpayers – to the highest bidder? Because THAT doesn’t open the door to fraud at all.
Sometimes I hate politicians. Start fixing the budgets – of the towns that can afford to throw huge town celebrations but can’t keep a fire department open. Of the schools that can afford to hire a comedian to come in and talk about “bullying” but can’t afford toilet paper. Start looking at your politicians’ salaries and pensions and benefits packages. Start making them pay for their own, just like people in the private sector are. Stop paying your city manager hundreds of thousands of dollars. Stop paying school administrators ridiculous salaries – a school I worked for provided a car for the superintendent and then complained that there wasn’t enough money for books – and start paying the bills first.