Want Ace on Lexington streets? Tell DickD@lfucg.com
Councilmen Dick DeCamp and Jay McChord are on track to pass an ordinance
that would boot Ace’s Big Red Boxes off the streets of Lexington and into a corral. The
draft ordinance was passed Tuesday, August 12, 2008 (CouncilMembers@lfucg.com; Vice Mayor Jim Gray 258.3202 firstname.lastname@example.org;
Dick DeCamp 258.3222 email@example.com)
The proposed ordinance would herd the newspaper into (city-owned) corrals for a:
•$200 annual permit fee;
•a $25 per rack fee downtown;
•and a $25 per rack installation fee.
Ace would also have to buy all these new racks at who-knows-what cost.
What better way for the city to kick off the celebrations for Ace’s upcoming 20th anniversary than with a gift like this? (They didn’t even ask where we were registered.)
Dick DeCamp has actually bought campaign advertising in Ace in years past, so we
assume he has an investment in the Ace readers he represents, and that he misguidedly set
these wheels in motion with good intentions.
Readers are voting now through Labor Day in Ace’s Annual Best of Lex. That has an
ironic ring to it right now. Is this the BEST Lex can do? The 19th annual Ace A&E Fall
Preview goes on stands September 4—this is how the LFUCG supports the Arts?
Nothing says “Free Press” quite like “Restricted and Cost-Prohibitive Access!” Readers should feel free to contact Dick and the gang at LFUCG and say, “Keep Ace on the Streets!”
Good luck with that.
We realize everybody is suffering from a bad case of “outrage fatigue” this summer.
The triumphs of the bulldozers and short-fingered vulgarians litter Main Street. Vice
Mayor Jim Gray does his best to “follow the money” and is stonewalled at every turn.
When councilman Jay McChord characterizes our boxes as “a very ugly scar in
our downtown” (in the August 13 Herald- Leader) one has to wonder if he’s even
BEEN downtown and seen what a “scar” really looks like.
There IS clutter on the city streets in the form of abandoned boxes from failed and defunct pubs. They could’ve been removed and recycled but the Council needed four years and a “Task Force” instead?
Surely we can all agree that Lexington has bigger problems. (We write about them
every week. We’ve been writing about them since 1989. We’ve had a hand in creatively
solving as many of them as we could.) But here again, the Council has applied a sledgehammer
when a scalpel was needed.
And as for these proposed corrals (speaking of scars), has anyone even looked
at last year’s successful Art in Motion bus shelter project as a Model? Or will they be
just another aesthetic atrocity?
The goal of Ace’s Big Red Boxes has always been that they would be a signature of
a Free and Independent Press on Lexington’s city streets in the same way the Village Voice’s Big Red Boxes have always been a recognizable symbol of that in New York.
When Stanley Kubrick sought to authenticate his New York City streetscapes in Eyes
Wide Shut, he anchored those (English) sets with Village Voice’s signature boxes. (In fact, it’s hard to imagine a movie set in New York
It’s a sure bet that visitors for the 2010 World Equestrian Games games know a newsweekly when they see it, and rely on it for where to go and what to do.
It’s possible they’ve even seen a Village Voice in all their world travel. Or an AUSTIN Chronicle
(surely the town elders spotted one on their fact-finding mission?). Or a Durham Independent. Or any of the other hundreds of newsweeklies supported and relied on by their communities, their chambers, their city councils, their readership, and their advertisers.
Battle-fatigued readers and 1st amendment fans can respond to the LFUCG, and
join Ace on facebook for updates. The unofficial Ace microblog is available on Twitter.
We appreciate the offers from downtown businesses like Isle of You who’ve volunteered
to provide an adoptive home for a Big Red Box on their private property.
Owner Lori Houlihan writes, “I love psychedelic streetscapes and ‘eyesores’ like multicolored
newspaper stands and playbill on posts and walls.”
The Task Force meets again at 10 am on August 25. Ace is a citywide newspaper with many
distribution outlets in Fayette and adjacent counties. If downtown doesn’t want a free, independent weekly newspaper on the streets, LFUCG will be happy to bulldoze them under. And use ‘em for mulch.
FREE the Press in Lexington: A Sampling from the Ace mailbag and Facebook
After reading the article in the Herald-Leader today [August 13]
regarding the racks for the various free publications in our
town, I would like to make this comment. If Jay McChord is so
worried about “very ugly scars” in our downtown regarding the
various rack sizes/colors of the free publications, you wouldn’t be
so cooperative in letting the Webb Mafia build another ugly building
in downtown Lexington…
—J Thomas Bragg
Though I’ve only lived in Lex for about seven years, I’ve determined
that whenever the local government desires ‘progress’
the quickest path is always to pave over a local estate. Idle Hour
has long since become a golf course; Beaumont has disappeared
under apartments and an admittedly nice Kroger; and Hamburg
will be used in future civil engineering courses as a prime example
of how NOT to handle traffic flow. That makes three. It just
seems logical that the fourth estate would be next in line…”
I really can’t understand what the big deal is. In both Louisville
and Chicago, you’ll find about three times the amount of newspaper
boxes as there are in Lexington. It seems like it would be a
good thing to have, what with those Equestrian games coming up.
People will want something to let them know what’s going on
around the city. —Charlie Thomason
Dear Council Friends, GEEEZ—I guess the newspaper racks
look a bit messy— well democracy is messy. Keep those
darned boxes in public spaces—with no charge! Wish you all had
the same zeal when it comes to removing barriers for people with
disabilities in your districts…What —did you need something to
take your Centrepointe frustrations out on? FOR SHAME!
I’m a proud supporter of yours. I’ve enjoyed your leadership
of my home district and respect your great wisdom….
However: this new campaign against newspaper stands is
wrongheaded. It is bad for community.
I believe the impetus for this is, in part, a good one. That some
of these boxes block rights-of-way should certainly not be tolerated.
I realize there has been some objection to the appearance of
these boxes—that somehow they visually sully our downtown. I
would argue that newspaper boxes are the least of the problems
facing Downtown Lexington’s appearance.
I cannot be the first to point out to you the tremendous fiscal
strain this proposed ordinance will place on our community’s
newspapers…On top of the $200 annual fee, our community’s
papers—the Fourth Estate of Democracy—would also have to
purchase entirely new fleets of boxes at untold cost, and then pay
$50 PER BOX to place them throughout downtown.
Freedom of the press is one of the most treasured rights in
our society. But, as the saying goes, freedom is not free. It comes
at a cost.…Placing exorbitant extra costs on these newspapers
will simply silence them, not regulate them. And dictating the look
and color of these boxes seems a micro-managing project better
left to advertising agencies, not city councilors.
There is great work to do in this city. I’d like to see you continue
to do the great work you have so often done. And I hope you
will reconsider this ordinance, and revisit the power of community.
Sincerely, and with thanks for your service,
—David Schankula 3rd District; Founder, The Lexicon Project
Member of Ace Community Advisory Board
Every time I wax nostalgic
about moving home, I
hear something like this or
remember the Great Water
Company Debacle of the early
Oughts. I am reminded that our
local government treats Lex
like a town of 50K people in the
1940s by issuing ridiculously
provincial ordinances while
ignoring the city’s real needs. I
guess Thomas Wolfe was right,
you can’t go home again…
My…my…my what is happening to our city? We have the
potential for such artistic greatness and yet each day it is
being literally ‘chipped’ away. We need a revolution FAST! Let’s
fight the good fight and quick!