Beep plasters face on Boro Hall with taxpayer-funded banners

Beep plasters face on Boro Hall with taxpayer-funded banners
Community News Group / Lauren Gill

These banners are raising some red flags.

Borough President Adams is using taxpayer money to finance huge banners bearing his and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna’s faces on Borough Hall in what they say is an effort to highlight the diverse population of Kings County, but critics say seems more like self-promotion than a public service announcement.

“They are good public servants, but there is a line that’s not to be crossed when you take advantage of taxpayer dollars when participating in something that can be seen as self promotional,” said Dick Dadey, the director of good-government group Citizens Union. “It’s questionably inappropriate.”

Adams spent $1,375 from his discretionary fund to pay for the three giant sign, which hang above the Borough Hall steps. Two of the placards feature large pictures of Adams and Reyna — whose holds an unelected position — with their names and titles underneath. The center banner reads, “Welcome to Brooklyn. Diversity is our strength in One Brooklyn,” surrounded by a border of different faces.

The Beep raised the banners several weeks ago ahead of his International Day of Friendship celebration, and has kept them up to alert passersby to the rainbow of races in the borough — including those of its leaders, a Borough Hall spokesman said.

“They set the tone loudly and clearly for the tone of diversity, represented by the first African-American and Latina to serve borough-wide,” said communications director Stefan Ringel.

Council voted in 2007 to ban members from using city funds for advertisements that feature their photo, likeness, or voice, but there are no rules against borough presidents using taxpayer dollars to plaster their mugs on signs.

Several residents said they did see the banner as a celebration of diversity, though one thought the Beep could have found a cheaper way to get his point across.

“I guess that’s government for you, I think they could’ve done it for less,” said East New Yorker Dayne Banks. “I have no problem that they’re promoting diversity, but they should’ve had some school kids make up a sign or something.”

But another Brooklynite said she thought it was worth dipping into public coffers to let residents know who their politicians are and where they come from.

“I live in Brooklyn and I didn’t know that these people were our borough presidents,” said Crown Heights resident Andrea Rice. “Everything comes out of taxpayer dollars and I think the message of diversity is important.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill