Have you seen a “stimulus” sign in your neighborhood?
Take a photograph, and send the picture along with a description of the location to firstname.lastname@example.org, urges Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Issa’s congressional staff plans to assemble a prominent display of what Issa believes are ubiquitous stimulus signs praising the Obama administration and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, on transportation facilities across America.
Yesterday, Issa’s Washington office issued a statement charging that the Department of Transportation is continuing to push recipients of Obama administration stimulus money to display signs crediting President Obama and stimulus spending with “economic recovery,” even though DOT has responded to pressure and agreed to stop “requiring” that the signs be posted.
WND reported Monday that Issa’s office issued a scathing Republican oversight report charging the Obama White House has “used the machinery of the Obama campaign to tout the President’s agenda through inappropriate and sometimes unlawful public relations and propaganda initiatives.”
Issa is convinced that despite the objections voiced by his office, the report and the DOT’s apparent agreement to stop, the agency intends to plaster railroads, airports, highways and waterways throughout the country with Obama stimulus signs. The congressman says the signage campaign amounts to little more that a political message to re-elect the president.
Issa is now convinced that DOT’s change of policy from requiring stimulus signs to be posted to “encouraging” the posting of the signs is nothing more than window dressing.
“Despite eliminating requirements to post signs, Department of Transportation agencies are still improperly focused on pushing projects to display signs crediting President Obama and the so-called ‘stimulus’ for earmarked funding handouts,” Issa said yesterday.
Issa is charging that DOT is involved in “wink-wink” compliance by getting the signs put up by implementing regulations that “encourage” stimulus contractors to post the signs.
“The Administration’s obsession with using taxpayer money to get political credit for projects add unnecessary expenses and bureaucracy to a spending package that’s failing to spur promised job creation in the private sector,” he stressed.
Issa’s office notes that stimulus signs posted by DOT can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to as much as $10,000 for a sign posted at Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C.
WND reported Issa has called for a Government Accountability Office investigation into the legality of the Obama administration’s use of taxpayer funds to conduct “a propaganda effort” to promote the president’s partisan agenda.
Here come the signs
A letter Tuesday to Issa from Calvin L. Scovel III, the inspector general at DOT, made clear that DOT has agreed not to require ARRA signs to be posted, thereby appearing to concede to the objections raised by Issa and the Republican report.
However, Scovel’s letter made equally clear DOT will continue to “encourage” the posting of ARRA signs.
Scovel detailed “encouragement” rules and regulations for ARRA signs to be posted on nearly every mode of transportation in the United States – including stimulus-funded airport projects under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration, highway projects under the Federal Highway Administration, railroad projects under the Federal Railroad Administration and maritime projects under the Maritime Administration.
Given that most contractors are inclined to comply with the wishes of their government funding agencies, Issa is concerned the difference between “requiring” ARRA signs to be posted and “encouraging” the posting of the signs may not be meaningful in practice.
“Despite the fact that the Federal Railroad Administration no longer legally requires the posting of such signs, their guidance continues to encourage grant recipients to spend federal stimulus dollars on such signage,” a press release issued by Issa’s office yesterday stressed.
Issa further pointed out that the Federal Railroad Administration’s decision to eliminate requirements for posting stimulus signs took effect July 15, only after a proposal introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. The measure to prevent tens of millions of dollars to be spent on stimulus signs was selected July 13 to go to the House floor to be put to a vote through the Republican “You Cut” project.
The Federal Railroad Administration continues to encourage grant recipients to spend federal stimulus dollars and post the signs anyway by specifying FRA stimulus sign posting policies that specify:
- ARRA project signs should be stand-alone signs, with the sole purpose of identifying the project as being funded in whole or in part by ARRA;
- Grantees may elect to have a secondary sign that identifies other project partners (such as state, county, city or corporate sponsors), but only if the secondary project signs are smaller and less prominent that the ARRA project sign;
- AARA project signs should be designed to maximize the visibility of Recovery.gov and DOT logos and minimize any accompanying text;
- For rail vehicles purchased or rehabilitated using ARRA funding, ARRA project signs should take the form of a decal, no smaller than 12-inches measured diagonally;
- For passenger rail cars, such decals should be placed so as to be visible to every passenger entering the car (e.g., by being placed n or adjacent to each vestibule car and/or each exterior door);
- For locomotives, such decals should be placed in the lower front of the locomotive body, adjacent to a builder plate;
- ARRA project signs on fixed facilities should be located as to maximize their visibility to rail passengers and passersby approaching the site.