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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

It had all the makings of a frothy Herald exclusive: federal bureaucrats running around town measuring billboards and finding fault and generally wasting precious federal resources on "highway beautification."

One problem. Two actually. Perched high atop One Herald Square. One permit, which the feds now want someone to tell publisher Pat Purcell had been issued in error. Short straw anyone? The Herald spokeswoman dodged the question.

Can you imagine if those wayward billboards sat atop 135 Morrissey Blvd? Oh the humanity!

The federal Highway Beautification Act has its roots in the Johnson administration, a project of First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. The goal is a noble one, to reduce or remove visual clutter and advance scenic enhancement and roadside development.

It's hard to envision either scenic enhancement or further roadside development along the Expressway, the Zakim Bridge or at Logan Airport, where federal regulators cited some examples. Herald Street underneath the Expressway will never win beauty awards.

You can also imagine the high dudgeon at Wingo Square when the feds singled out developer John Rosenthal's gun control billboard astride the Mass Pike as an example of protected speech. Anyone check the birth certificates of those commie inspectors?

Overall, the feds actually praised Massachusetts for a well-run, if short-handed program and recommended the state should more than double the current staff of four inspectors.

Um, what planet are they on?

In all honesty, it seems federal regulators should have higher priorities these days than assess the visual blight of billboards posted along busy urban streets and highways that most people ignore anyway.

Too bad the Herald can't say that because it is one of the scofflaws caught by federal employees actually doing their jobs.

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Anonymous Adam Gaffin said...

I don't get the Fenway one. Yeah, it's a giant banner, but, um, what highway is it next to?

March 02, 2011 6:46 AM  

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