August 05, 2006

Trust fund grants show signs of propaganda

Imagine if your town council launched an image building campaign at taxpayer’s expense. They would pay a consultant $45,000 to brand their image on everything including signage on all town buildings and town property, including vehicles that would read “This is a service of your town council, we’re connected to you!” You’d also have to pay for the signs, about 1-million dollars worth just to get started.

The entire town council would be run out of office on the next Election Day. If not sooner by taxpayers trying to impale them with these very signs.

So where did the County of Union get this idea from and why are taxpayers putting up with it? I can’t explain why taxpayers put up with anything, although I think it has mostly to do with most people not even bothering to vote anymore, but I can tell you where they got the idea from.

In the spring of 1999 Message & Media of New Brunswick was awarded a $45,000 contract to design new county signs. The firm was hired to implement “a new graphic and thematic image devoted to projecting a new identity” for Union County. It was a part of the county’s “Image Building Campaign” in which the firm boasted of being responsible for “the branding of the County with the “We’re Connected to You” image. (View Worrall Community Newspaper article regarding signage from 12/99)

The county even hangs these sings on municipal property. All 21 municipalities have sent the county millions in Open Space Trust fund monies since the fund’s adoption. The county in-turn has sent back one time payments of a few measly thousand dollars in the form of Open Space grants. You can’t miss where this money has gone. The county gives out these grants in October – right before Election Day and makes sure they have plenty of press releases about it in your local paper.

You’ll also see a county sign hanging where the money was spent even though your town has to match the grant’s funds in order to receive it. You can’t get county trust fund monies without signing an agreement with the county which includes agreeing to hang a “We’re connected to you!” sign. There is no stipulation in the agreement which states when you can take the sign down but you do have to agree to have the county install it “for you!” exactly where “they want it to hang!”.

The agreement states:

Upon execution of this agreement, the Municipality consents to the placement of a sign that reads, “Greening Union County/Kids Recreation Trust Grant Program/Preserve Union County”. A Service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. You’re Trust Fund Dollars at Work for you!” Signage shall be designed and installed by Union County’s Bureau of Traffic and Maintenance. (View agreement template)

This Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders advertising at taxpayer’s expense is priceless to the all-Democrat ruled freeholder board. Along with the photo ops at election time, consider the cost of bill board advertising.

The town of Cranford has bill boards on the perimeters of their downtown. Some of these billboards hang on quite streets. The standard advertising rate for a non profit is $525.00 per bill board per month plus the paper which costs $85 a poster. The private sector rate is $1,600.00 a month.

The county doesn’t miss a chance to hang a sign on anything. Nothing is sacred or off limits to their propaganda.