In response to blogosphere outrage over the University of Oregon's ordering delivery driver Pete Baker to remove a "Support Our Troops" magnetic yellow ribbon from his state-owned work truck, University President Dave Frohnmayer claimed that his hands were tied:
Decisions about whether employees may or may not put stickers or magnets on state-owned vehicles have nothing to do with the messages. The fact is state vehicles may not have any personal messages affixed to them.Now, maybe Frohnmayer thought no one would actually read Section 107103-5, but I did. It states the following:
This distinction between a state vehicle and a personal vehicle is very important. Government vehicles in this state have never been allowed to exhibit items of personal expression. State employees are free to use their personal vehicles for statements of all types on university campuses and elsewhere.
Because the university is a state agency, I cannot make distinctions or allowances on this matter, regardless of the cause or the breadth of its support. Whether the message is "Support Our Troops," "Fund Cancer Research" or "Support Tsunami Relief," employees may not place personal stickers or magnets on state-owned vehicles.
See Oregon Department of Administrative Services, Fleet Administration Operating Policies Section 107103-5: http://egov.oregon.gov/DAS/PFSS/FLEET/docs/
STICKER REMOVALIt's pretty clear, in its title and in its text, that this policy refers only to "stickers" -- not to magnets, suction-cup "Baby on Board" signs, Derek Jeter bobblehead dolls, plastic statues of Jesus on the dashboard, or any other personal accoutrements.
All vehicle-identifying stickers must remain on the vehicle in accordance with ORS 283 which requires all State vehicles be marked with the owning Agency name followed by “State of Oregon". Removal of stickers will result in a $25.00 fee. No unauthorized stickers are allowed on DAS owned vehicles.
In fact, from 107103-5's overall wording, you could argue that the authorization requirement applies only to official "vehicle identifying" stickers, and not to personal stickers of any kind. Yet somehow from 107103-5's spare text, Frohnmayer extrapolates a total ban on any and all personal messages.
Where is he getting that from?
Frohnmayer claims that "[g]overnment vehicles in this state have never been allowed to exhibit items of personal expression." Really? On what authority? Not that granted by 107103-5 on its face, that's for sure. (He tries to gloss over the issue by sneaking the phrase "stickers or magnets" into his statement, but that's a phrase of his own invention.)
Baker's ribbon emblem was apparently a magnet, not a sticker, although the issue is clouded because both terms are often used interchangeably in the same article.
But regardless of which it was, it appears Baker was allowed to have it on his truck until another employee complained. So Frohnmayer's claim that Oregon state vehicles have "never been allowed to exhibit items of personal expression" is simply not true.
They're allowed until someone raises a fuss.
At UO, as Michelle Malkin reader James Saker notes, that someone is likely to be against the war. And, apparently, against supporting our troops.