March 10, 2010
In Colorado Springs, streetlights have been turned off, cabbies patrol for crime, and trash cans have been removed from parks.
Now a controversial animal-rights group wants to help out the city — and get a little publicity for itself — by purchasing trash cans for city parks that would feature an anti-meat slogan and a woman clad in a lettuce bikini.
Although the city’s been actively exploring sponsorships and partnerships to help keep parks clean and community centers open, Mayor Lionel Rivera and other city officials are leery about the offer from PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“If you allow PETA to advertise on trash cans, then you would also have to allow the Colorado Beef Council equal time,” Rivera joked.
Still, Rivera said he would consider the proposal if PETA offered to pay waste haulers to pick up the trash and take it to the dump. “We’ve got trash cans,” he said. “The issue is the cost of having someone pick them up and empty them.”
PETA sent Rivera a letter on Wednesday via e-mail offering to contribute money to put trash cans back in the parks. In exchange, PETA would place ads on the sides of the bins that would read, “Meat trashes the planet. Go Vegan.” Next to the slogan is an image of one of PETA’s “lettuce ladies,” a smiling blonde clad in a lettuce bikini.
“Our proposal would help keep Colorado Springs’ beautiful parks from becoming litter dumps and would prompt residents to adopt a healthy, humane, and environmentally friendly vegan diet, so it’s a win-win situation, PETA vice president Tracy Reiman said in a press release.
Kristina Addington, campaign coordinator for PETA, said that the organization has offered to donate money to other cash-strapped cities in exchange for prominently displaying their ads on recycling trucks and other equipment. She said she didn’t know if other cities have taken up the offers.
Councilman Tom Gallagher, who admits to liking a good burger, has no problems partnering with PETA. “It’s a solution on the table,” he said.
Some meat-eating residents might be offended by PETA’s message, he conceded, “but at least they wouldn’t have to walk through trash.”
“We have to pick up the trash in the parks. If we don’t do that, we might as well rezone them dumps,” he added.
Vice Mayor Larry Small said he’s not opposed to using corporate branding or putting plaques in parks to recognize citizens or groups who have donated money or time. But like Rivera, he doesn’t support using public spaces for political messages.
Of the lettuce-clad woman, he said, “It’s not exactly what I would consider in good taste for a hiking trail. It’s not something that just says, ‘Have a nice day.’”
Call the writer at 476-4825.