by Max Brantley
Shades of Bill McCuen.
It's Secretary of State Mark Martin's job to maintain the Capitol. Does he really need a sign advertising the fact? Does he really need a sign on which his name is in bigger letters than the contractors and sources of money on a current $438,000 project, fixing the leaky skylight dome over the House chamber? Does he really need the sign on the grounds of the Capitol Hill building, maybe 100 yards or so from the actual work, which can't be seen from outside the building?
The answers are no, no and no. Except that, if self-promotion is your aim, the answer to the last question is yes. The sign has been placed so it's seen readily by motorists on heavily traveled Third Street.
I've sent some questions about the sign, including cost and staff time and who spec'ed the fonts and type sizes, to Martin's staff.
Credit Republican Martin for promoting a tax — the real estate transfer tax, which provides some money for historic preservation work.
Here's a brilliant idea, which I give the secretary of state for free: Put a big sign — think an archway — over the walkway leading up to the front doors of the Capitol. Legend:
Maintained by SECRETARY OF STATE MARK MARTIN.
Paper goods by Charmin
Cleaning chemicals by Ajax, Saniflush, Mr. Clean.
Lobbying supplied by the Koch Bros.
Legislation supplied by ALEC.
Possibilities are endless.
UPDATE: A spokesman for the secretary of state blames the sign on the Natural and Cultural Resources Council, which made a grant for the project. The rules for NCRC grants require that a sign be posted, Alex Reed noted. He said Martin's office merely provided a seal to the signmakers, but I still haven't been told who made and erected the sign and specified the lettering. I would note that the NCRC rules say about the signs that are required:
Permanent signage for each project funded by the Council is required. ...
... Each grantee will be provided with one sign per project site. This sign will be of metal, size 12” x 18.” Each grantee will also be provided camera-ready artwork for a Council logo for use in printed materials concerning their grant projects.
This sign is neither permanent, nor metal nor 12 inches by 18 inches.
UPDATE II: Randy Dennis, program director for the Resources Council, said the sign in question is not the work of the Council. He said the Council does provide a small, standard metal sign intended for placement in or around the funded project. (Inside the House chamber would make sense in this case, for example.) But other signs and placement of those signs is a decision of the recipient, Dennis said. His agency just provides money for historic projects.
UPDATE III: Around 3:30 p.m., I got a more honest answer from the secretary of state than the first attempt to make the subject go away. It follows:
The sign was provided as a part of the construction project. Signage was provided as a standard temporary construction sign, and will be removed once project is completed. After the work is completed, the final 12”X18” bronze sign will be installed from the ANCRC. This construction sign was not funded by ANCRC. It was provided by the contractor. It is standard for construction projects. People see them all the time. It is a standard in state construction projects. The contractor designed the sign based on previous construction projects done at the state capitol.
As far as the accounting goes, there is nothing for the sign because it was provided.
As far as placement of the sign goes, I spoke with Grounds staff, and they said they chose this area because it is non-irrigated, so there would not be water issues. There are no emails pertaining to the placement of the sign. It was installed by Grounds staff. The sign is located on the North End of the building where the House Dome is being repaired.
We are very thankful to the ANCRC for this grant. It was a very worthwhile project, and we are happy to be working on the preservation of this historic building.
I have asked for other examples of the "standard" use of signs crediting the secretary of state on Capitol grounds projects. Alex Reed provided a photo of a sign placed on the front lawn of the Capitol on another renovation project undertaken during the Charlie Daniels era that indeed bears his name. It was placed on Woodlane Street, closer to the work.