DART (Des Moines Regional Transit Authority) is in trouble. First there was a public relations crisis when seven pedestrians were hurt when DART buses hit them. Now, a local atheist group's ad, that were bought and paid for, have been removed from the buses, due to the complaints of riders.
The controversy over the ads seems to have taken DART by surprise. They've known about the ads for months. It's not a case of the atheists forcing their way onto the bus lot and tacking up their illegal signs overnight. On the contrary, the atheist group has a signed contract and DART actually produced the signs for the group! The General Manager says the ads were installed on the buses "before getting final approval." Shouldn't the ad concepts been approved before the contract was signed?
So now, OF COURSE! the ACLU is interested in the case. This is a type of case that the ACLU was invented to take. In case you are wondering, here is the formula for an ACLU case: A minority group gets something taken away, laws are violated in the process, and this disenfranchised group asks the ACLU to take its case. The ACLU is often looked upon as a member of the left-wing establishment, but the truth is, they defend the NRA too. In this case, the minority is atheists, they got their signs taken down when they had a signed legally-binding contract, and now they will probably have to sue to get their rights enforced.
As a public relations professional, I naturally have some questions:
- Does DART have rules about what ads can and cannot be accepted?
- Who decides whether an ad is acceptable?
- Who pulls the trigger on the decision to take ads down after they have been produced, paid for and installed on the buses?
- Was the atheist organization offered compensation for their financial loss and damages for DART's refusal to honor the contract?