The Bridge II

January 9, 2007

Posted by Jay Livingston

The Geico Washington Bridge deal (mentioned in the previous entry) is dead. The Port Authority cancelled the gecko-at-the-gate arrangement. The New York Times article does not specifically mention the Montclair SocioBlog by name, but it does refer to “the loud and swift response to the contract.” Still, we’re proud do have done our part.

The incident reminded me of a proposal some years ago to defray costs at the Statue of Liberty by charging visitors a dollar. I don’t recall how long ago this was, perhaps in the 1980s. My searches on the Internet, including Lexis-Nexis, couldn’t find any reference, probably because the proposal got nowhere fast. I do recall one politician saying something like, “It’s the Statue of Liberty. She says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor.’ She doesn’t say ‘gimme a buck.’”

What’s also interesting in this issue of the interplay of public and private is that Geico, the private corporation, may have been more responsive to public opinion than was the public institution (the Port Authority). Geico was worried about its image in the public eye. But for the Port Authority, it’s not clear whether public opinion was the decisive factor in this case of multi-causality. Even in today’s statements, it’s hard to tell whether the Port Authority really shares the view that the Bridge is a public piece of architecture not to be prostituted as an advertising vehicle. In fact, one of the arguments against the deal was economic — that the PA was selling too cheap. It’s like the old punch line, “Now we’re just haggling about price.”

2 comments:

Dan Myers said...

I'm just waiting for someone to hang a sign on the moon. It won't be too long...

brewright said...

The lesson here: Don't mess with Montclair Sociology!