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Message 00500: Re: [open-gov] A Modest Suggestion In Regards To Official Portraits

But you don't want to forfeit your portrait!

On Jan 25, 2009 5:06 PM, "Silence Dogood" <silence@media.org> wrote:

To The Group:
In reading about the 2008 howdeedoo about Government Printing Office
"profits," [1] your humble correspondent was struck by the fact that
GPO apparently overcharged State by $50m and had to hire an armored
car and drive a refund check down to Condi.  GPO would dispute this
characterization of course.[2]  But, that is not the subject upon
which I write today.

What has caught my eye is the official portrait commissioned at the
cost of $10,000 by the Honorable Public Printer Number 25.[3]
Evidently the official portrait racket is not a new one, and indeed
$10,000 seems fairly modest, at least by the standards of other
portraits, or, for example, the entertainment budgets of various Wall
Street firms.  Indeed, $10,000 would barely cover the cost of a flight
on a private jet from Detroit!

But, in these times of economic crisis, I would perhaps venture a
modest suggestion, which is that government no more be allowed to
commission official portraits.  Instead, officials should be asked to
hang around in some pre-designated location for a day or two and
provide an Official Portrait Opportunity, by which artists and others,
through some open process, are allowed to create portraits.

Later, if the National Portrait Gallery or the agency in question
should feel a need to purchase a print of such a portrait, they are
welcome to do so in negotiation with of the artist of their choice.
But, irrespective of any changing hands of money, any qualified artist
and perhaps some art students will have been given the opportunity to
create a work of art featuring a famous bureaucrat or other notable
and to sell or give it away at their choice.

And, if nobody comes to the Official Portrait Opportunity?  Perhaps
then, there should not be one.

Humbly yours,

Silence Dogood

1. FreeGovInfo post on Washington Times Scrutinizes GPO
2. GPO press release disputing this characterization as poppycock.
3. Wikipedia article featuring #25 and his portrait.
4. Official portraits draw skeptical gaze.

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