Cities Selling Out to Maintain Public Services

As Baltimore wrestles with the difficult decision between closing fire stations or selling adspace on fire trucks, Michael Cooper reports on an approach more and more cities are taking to curb budget shortfalls.

Corporate advertising and naming rights are common on buses and sports arenas. But what about naming rights for transit stations? Or ad space on fire hydrants? Many cities, in the face of financial constraints, are looking for creative ways to fund basic public amenities such as police and fire services. Baltimore's City Council recently passed legislation urging officials to pursure advertisment opportunities for fire trucks in an effort to keep 3 doomed fire stations open.

William Welch, City Councilor and author of the legislation says, "...we can't tax people out of existence. We're trying, our mayor's trying, to bring 10,000 more people back to Baltimore city. And if you have an increasing fee or tax structure, you're not going to be able to do that. So you have to create alternatives."

The trend in city sell-outs isn't popular with everyone, however. Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, is the campaign coordinator for the Public Citizen's Commercial Alert project, an organization that works to stem commertialization. As she points out, "We are bombarded by ads everywhere we go, and these are public spaces meant to be reflective of the values of our society, co-opted by the private sector,"

Thanks to Jessica Brent

Full Story: Your Ad Here, on a Fire Truck? Broke Cities Sell Naming Rights

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