Thursday, January 13, 2000
Only You Can Prevent Trademark Infringement!The latest Squid tidbit to grace my mailbox features beloved icon Smokey the Bear campaigning against the Monterey Coastal Initiative--the March 7 ballot measure intended to limit commercial development along Monterey's coastline.
A flyer distributed by the group Save Monterey! bears an image of Smokey (lifted straight from his Web site), who is quoted as saying: "Petitions and initiatives sometimes act like forest fires. They start with a small spark, but can easily get out of control. Measure B is an example of an out of control initiative."
Now, Save Monterey! isn't going to light Madison Avenue on fire with that ad. But creative criticism aside, group ringleader Rick Heuer, who happens to be in the marketing business, ought to have known better than to use Smokey in a political campaign.
Under federal law, Smokey can be used for certain free-speech activities. However, being the spokesbear for a group of commercial property owners waging political warfare is not one of them.
"Smokey is a protected image," an inflamed Roberta Hilbruner--national symbols coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service--informed me. "There is a difference between free speech and using Smokey to sell something or promote a political idea."
And, says Hilbruner, Uncle Sam and his friends on Capitol Hill take such violations seriously, even going so far as to hold congressional hearings on image violations.
Let's hope, for the sake of Heuer and Save Monterey!, that Congress is too busy fighting other fires. It may serve them right, though, having dragged Coastal Initiative backers into court over a picayune dispute over how the initiative will appear on the ballot.
If it weren't illegal, I'd make my own flyer with Uncle Sam saying: "I Want YOU--To Stop the Hijinks and Get on With the Election!"
Waiter, There's a Homeless Person in My SoupYou really have to wonder whether G.U. Krueger, an economist with the California Association of Realtors, had ever stepped foot in Monterey County before attending last week's "Economic Forecast & Strategy Conference."
Based on the guy's out-of-touch comments about the housing situation around here, I'm willing to bet a tentacle that he hadn't. If, in fact, he hadn't, as far as I'm concerned he still hasn't. The conference, you see, was held at the Spanish Bay Inn at Pebble Beach, a place where you don't come across many people struggling to pay for shelter.
"Everything is hunky-dory."
If "hunky-dory" means that about a fourth of our citizens are officially paying too much for rent, then he's right.
If "hunky-dory" means that hundreds, perhaps thousands of our citizens are piling two and three families into one- and two-bedroom apartments because that's all they can afford, then he's right.
If "hunky-dory" means that Pebble Beach itself is allowed to build its government-ordered affordable housing in the far reaches of the county--far away from the jobs and services they need in order to live productive lives--then he's right.
I'd go on with this little tizzy fit, but, hey, I'm on deadline here and my boss (yes, even Squid's gotta serve somebody) is breathing down my neck. Plus, it's lunchtime, he looks hungry, and I see in his eyes that he's asking himself "broiled or fried."
Just a quick note to Mr. Krueger: The more you say that things are "hunky-dory," the more that low-wage people--like the people who watered your glass and patted your butter plate last week--are being priced out of the county. Don't increase Squid's rent: email@example.com.