Lane County Uses Tax $$$ for Promo-Ads

Lane County used tax dollars to place a huge ad in last Sunday’s Eugene Register Guard praising Congressman DeFazio. It is estimated the ad cost $1,000. Pardon the poor faxed copy, but you can see the Lane County logo at the bottom. Public outcry has caused the county to rethink the ad, and the funding may be switched retroactively. This all comes at a time when the county is laying of scores of workers and cutting services in response to budget cuts.

It is not enough that the County has the power to use tax dollars to pass public declarations, send personal letters, hold press conferences, travel to Washington D.C. to talk in person, or to write letters to the local newspapers praising Congressmen they love. The County now wants the power to do full scale advertising and promotion campaigns. Much like the estimated $40,000 of tax dollars they spent on half page newspaper and radio ads giving promotional views of the May income tax measure. The State Elections office criticized them on that last venture.

  • Bob Clark

    At last month’s Executive Club, one of the speakers noted that the city Damascus’ has been paying its local paper to run stories about the “fine” job it does, paying the paper without contract and without public acknowledgement. I wonder how many other papers in this state are getting public dollars without acknowledgement.

  • anon

    The Oregonian’s publisher, Fred Stickel, defended the Register-Guard and other local newspapers today, calling the controversial ads and under-the-table payments from government entities for favorable coverage a “lapse in judgment.” He told KATU-TV that the print media stands behind its journalistic practices and conducts itself within a tradition of adherence to the highest ethical standards. In defending the ad in the Eugene Register-Guard, he said, “It’s the sort of thing that happens to most people at some point in their lives.”

  • Steve Plunk

    This fits the pattern of governments spending money to get money.

    I find this as distasteful as local governments paying lobbyists or even worse state agencies paying staff to lobby the “peoples” elected officials.

    It would be nice to see a ballot measure forbidding such practices. Government lobbying government is an affront to democracy and government paying off the press is worse.

  • Marvin McConoughey

    The refreshing aspect of the most recent Lane County government corruption scandal is that it has come into the open. A greater problem is where collusion occurs in undocumented private conversations that invisibly drive future public agency actions. In Corvallis, the school district successfully drove through a major local schools tax bill. The district will now provide behind-the-scenes support to the Benton County tax hike being pushed, most likely during November, 2008. Similarly, the local newspaper, the Corvallis Gazette-Times has an ongoing effort to persuade businesses to support putting newspapers in local schools. The newspaper consequently advocates that consumers “buy local” even though the newspaper itself is owned by out-of-state corporation Lee Enterprises, and has brought in its publisher and its editor from other states.