Recently, and to the dismay of many in the Wayzata community, some City Staff and and a few Council Members began promotion of a Facebook contest to benefit Partners in Preservation in exchange for $5,000 and the opportunity to win more funds if it helped to guide our behavior by 'liking' an American Express funded charity. Regretfully, Wayzata.com also promoted the contest at the request of City Staff.
|Official newsletter from City of Wayzata
promoting American Express, Partners
in Preservation, and Facebook.
The promotional message featuring American Express and their corporate do-gooding was placed on the City of Wayzata's official website, and forwarded as a press release on two separate occasions on official City of Wayzata letterhead. The most outrageous infraction in my opinion was the banner hung on the Wayzata Depot advertising the contest on Facebook, Partners in Preservation, and American Express.
Municipalities are in the business of sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing, and transportation. Accepting funds in exchange for advertising dollars is not the business that the City of Wayzata should be engaged in, because the tax payers should not have to bear any expense to promote businesses. No staff time, no email resources, no letterhead / graphic design expense, no television time, etc. There are those who will say that this is no big deal, and that this kind of thing should be tolerated. Or, that business pay higher taxes and should therefore receive greater benefit than the citizens. I don't agree.
|City of Wayzata's website as of 10/11/2011.|
You see, the problem is that this is part of an overall trend for government and educational systems to promote business via advertising to help fund themselves. Wayzata's football team played at Edina last Thursday evening and on one end of the field was a giant LCD screen advertising sports apparel and higher learning opportunities, with a happy go lucky reminder that ad dollars help to support Edina Public Schools.
Ad dollars that are spent on government and educational channels are taken out of the private market, and not spent on print, mail, broadcast, or internet mediums that are controlled by private enterprise. Further, there is a conflict of interest by the City as it takes money in exchange for influence over it's own citizens.
At this time, on the home page of the City of Wayzata's website and in it's current edition of the Portal (two total pages of communication), there are no less than 15 businesses / non-profits / charities or programs outside of City services mentioned by name:
- Park Nicollet
- Breast Cancer awareness
- American Express
- National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Partners in Preservation
- Wayzata Chamber of Commerce
- Wayzata Wine & Spirits
- Wayzata Bar & Grill
- Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association
- Wayzata Weekends
- Boo Blast
- Memorial Blood Center
- United States Post Office
- Randy's Sanitation
|Press release from City of
Wayzata featuring Partners
in Preservation, Facebook,
and American Express.
If we take away the money component from the equation, how does a business get promoted by the City of Wayzata on it's website and newsletter? Business owners all over town would like to receive a free plug at taxpayer expense.$2>