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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bid to ban billboards

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— Gov. M. Jodi Rell Tuesday renewed her opposition to billboards along highways as she called on the General Assembly to support her proposal to ban billboards on state property.
Rell held a press conference at the Stratford train station, where she stood with her back to a Barrett Outdoor Communications Inc. billboard, which advertised a Subway restaurant, a local truck stop and a Popeye’s restaurant.
“I like using visual aids,” Rell said of her choice of where to stand.
Rell said she got the idea to call for taking down billboards on state property after driving around herself.
“It’s not just their message; it tends to clutter our roadways,” Rell said. “It distracts people from driving.”
Rell is seeking to have 120 billboards taken down when leases on the structures expire in April and June. She also has issued an executive order barring the approval of new billboard applications.
Bruce Barrett could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
But state House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, responded to Rell’s press conference Tuesday by saying, “We got big issues in Hartford and better things to worry about than the governor standing in front of a billboard in Stratford.”
Amann said the legislature is spending its time focusing on ways to revitalize the economy, create jobs and tackle health care.
“Is she looking to make I-95 attractive?” Amann asked. “Let’s close our eyes and pretend the billboards are not there. We have bigger issues to worry about. The governor needs to be engaged up here.”
The General Assembly’s Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on Rell’s proposal today. WED
Rell said she is going public because the Transportation Committee wants to “gut” her bill, and change it so the state transportation commissioner must approve all highway sign applications.
Rell urged that residents contact their state legislators to lobby them to take down the billboards.
Rell said the worst offenders are billboards that change the signs’ messages electronically.
“One lady said she slowed down because she wanted to read them and she almost hit the car in front of her,” Rell said.
She also said a businessman told her he picked up someone at Bradley International Airport and was embarrassed to explain all of the signs. She also said some of the signs are suggestive, and it’s not ideal for mothers to have to explain to their young children what some signs mean.
“Do we need to know where Dunkin’ Donuts is? If we want to drink it, we know where one is. I have them all programmed on my GPS,” Rell said.
Rell also acknowledged that her “smiling face” was on some of the billboards she has targeted, but defended it as part of an energy conservation program.
“When those come down we are not renewing any of those,” Rell said.
She said she doesn’t feel her crackdown on billboards will hurt advertising. She said there are many different methods of advertising, including on buses and trains. Advertising officials have said the billboards are necessary to make motorists aware about certain businesses or products, and loss of the signs could lead to loss of business and the chance jobs could be lost.
As for Barrett’s sign, Rell said it could be placed elsewhere, and “I’ll help him take it down.”
But she also said she is seeking a compromise with the legislature, and Amann said the Transportation Committee would look at her proposal objectively.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politics were definitely at play when this committee was originally formed by the City Republicans. It appeared only to be a forum to hit the majority Democratic State legislature over the head. Pam Staneski and Tome Beirne repeatedly referred laws to provide a decent education to all children in the State as "unfunded mandates". The truth is the Milford Board of Ed has more control over spending than they want to admit.

Republicans, do your job and stop blaming others for your shortcommings.

March 17, 2008 at 3:33 PM 
Anonymous The Scarlet Pimpernel said...

Hey MV Brown, you left the same exact "Blog" on another CT Post article concering education on March 17th either you are just a political hack and trouble maker or seeing as the date was March 17th (St. Patricks Day) perhaps we can assume you were and perhaps still are "Drunk".

"Republicans are terrible" "Republicans eat children" Blah, Blah, Blah.. . God people like you just suck.

March 25, 2008 at 8:09 AM 

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