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California Dept. of Transportation: ‘Be Sure to Black Out the ‘United States’ and [the] Motto’

10:10 AM, Feb 20, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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LeBard then sought to get CalTrans to sell the small patch of land in question to Santa Barbara County, which had expressed enthusiastic support for OTORA’s patriotic and privately funded project.  OTORA would simply be required to pay the “nominal fee” that CalTrans would charge the county for the small plot of land.  Having received some unflattering publicity about its dealings with OTORA from THE WEEKLY STANDARD, and subsequently from Fox News, CalTrans seemed happy to get rid of the land — and LeBard. 

But just when all appeared to be nearly resolved, the current director of CalTrans, Malcolm Dougherty, wrote a letter to LeBard in which he declared the following:

“In order to sell its property, Caltrans is required to review and approve metes and bounds, draft property descriptions for fair market appraisal, and obtain review and approval by the Right of Way Division, the Environmental Division, the Project Development Division, and Maintenance and Operations Division of Caltrans to ensure that no other public projects require the property and that there are no archaeological or environmental impediments to the relinquishing of the property.

“This process requires extensive public labor and other resources.  A conservative estimate to cover the cost of these resources is $10,000.” 

(If anyone believes President Obama’s ongoing suggestion that a massive and growing bureaucracy doesn’t undermine individual initiative or civic vibrancy, they might want to read that passage.)

In other words, OTORA would have to pay $10,000 to CalTrans (based on a “conservative estimate”) just to decide how much CalTrans would then charge for the land that CalTrans would sell to Santa Barbara County at OTORA’s expense.

LeBard said no thanks and pursued yet another angle.  Having learned that CalTrans had sanctioned — as a Transportation Art Program project — the building of Chicano Park in San Diego, where murals feature portraits of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, LeBard decided to reclassify his intended memorial as an art project.  He called it, “A Tribute to the Protectors of Freedom.” 

At first, CalTrans encouraged the idea.  But then, perhaps inevitably, it determined that the words “United States” and “E Pluribus Unum” aren’t nearly so benign as the likenesses of communist revolutionaries; that, unlike such likenesses, the name of our country and the motto on our Great Seal — like our flag itself — have no place on our public lands. 

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