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HOMETOWN U.S.A.: Colorado Springs, Colo.

PETA's money comes with a message for cash-strapped city

Colorado Springs, Colo., weighs a plan by the animal rights group to buy ads on trash cans.

March 14, 2010|By DeeDee Correll

The animal rights group PETA has a proposal it hopes cities in financial crisis will find hard to resist:

PETA will pay to deliver its anti-meat message on city property. In exchange, cities get some desperately needed revenue. "It's a win-win," said Kristina Addington, campaign coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

And so PETA took its idea to Colorado Springs, Colo., a conservative city and home to Peterson Air Force Base, the Army's Ft. Carson and the Air Force Academy.

The cash-strapped city of 400,000 has had to lay off workers, turn off streetlights and stop trash pickup in public parks in an effort to offset its $27-million deficit.

PETA, which also approached Oklahoma City and Milwaukee, has offered to pay for the privilege of plastering trash cans with ads reading: "Meat Trashes the Planet," featuring a model clad in a lettuce-leaf bikini. The proceeds from the advertising would allow the city to cover the cost of trash removal, Addington said.

"We'd love to get our message out there for the public to see, and in turn help them -- so people aren't littering," she said.

Although Colorado Springs, like lots of municipalities, is exploring corporate sponsorships of city assets, officials don't intend to accept the offer as it stands. "We'd welcome them, but not with a political message," said city spokeswoman Sue Skiffington-Blumberg.

Nor would the city be keen on placing racy ads in "G-rated" spots, she said.

Similar concerns led Oklahoma City officials to nix a similar PETA offer, city spokeswoman Kristy Yager said.

The lettuce-draped model posed the main problem -- "We're a conservative community," Yager said -- but so did the political message.

Milwaukee also turned down the offer, said public works spokeswoman Cecilia Gilbert, noting that selecting a sponsor isn't easy. "The public works committee felt it wasn't a good idea. Who do you choose? Who don't you choose?"

What's more, she said, Milwaukee is a "very meat-oriented" city where sausage plants are a major employer.

The city -- which has an ordinance against ads on public facilities -- also turned down an offer by Kentucky Fried Chicken to fix potholes in exchange for putting its logos on them.

Correll writes for The Times.

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