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Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=44679
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Author:  xboxtravis7992 [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 5:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Recently these last few days a static 2-8-0 in Boone, Iowa that from my knowledge might be owned by the Boone Scenic was being moved across town from one display location to another. During the trip... the locomotive received some noticeably... partisan political banners on it (Jeremy Anderson photos).
Image

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As you can imagine, people online exploded into massive debate and arguments over this locomotive. The rumors are the Trump 2020 banners were placed by the moving team, and the local city council had them removed once they got word of it to keep the event non-partisan. Later photos of the engine arriving at its destination show the banners had been removed by the time the engine arrived.

Of course the damage is done, and I think for many people this locomotive and via extension the whole Boone Scenic operation will be viewed in a politicized context. Sure it might have been the contracted moving team who indeed placed the banners, but I think it should be obvious... in the highly polarized and divided era we live in using a preservation move to support any political cause will be highly divisive and controversial. Unless your organization wants to see it spawn a thousand negative social media comments, and mocking memes spoofing it... just please, don't.

Author:  Steamguy73 [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 5:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

For those who don’t know, this locomotive is former Robervall and Saquenay locomotive 17, a 1940 Canadian Locomotive Company product. But it’s more famously known for working on the Crab Orchard and Egyptian railroad, a steam tourist and freight line near Marion Illinois. It was the last steam locomotive in the US to operate in common carrier service, last operating on September 8th, 1986.

For a time, it was displayed in Boone near the depot of the B&SV. According to their website It’s being moved near highway 30 to gain attention to the railroad.

https://bsvrr.com/wp/2020/07/21/on-the-road-again/

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

I received the report secondhand from a well-placed source that confirmed the Trump flags were placed by the truckers, and that the city council did, indeed, order them removed as soon as they were seen--even making them stop in the road to get them off. Which was, of course, the correct measure to take, simply to say "we're not playing politics with this move, and neither are the people we hire!"

Having said that, however, some politics we're never going to be able to avoid. National Park Service policy at Steamtown, Cuyahoga, and Grand Canyon? The mere existence of Steamtown and several other state-administrated rail museums? The pending project in Fort Wayne, or the fiasco of Indiana Transportation Museum?

Author:  xboxtravis7992 [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 5:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
I received the report secondhand from a well-placed source that confirmed the Trump flags were placed by the truckers, and that the city council did, indeed, order them removed as soon as they were seen--even making them stop in the road to get them off. Which was, of course, the correct measure to take, simply to say "we're not playing politics with this move, and neither are the people we hire!"

Having said that, however, some politics we're never going to be able to avoid. National Park Service policy at Steamtown, Cuyahoga, and Grand Canyon? The mere existence of Steamtown and several other state-administrated rail museums? The pending project in Fort Wayne, or the fiasco of Indiana Transportation Museum?


True, not to mention the Forest Service and Durango and Silverton stuff. But those are the politics that are unavoidable in preservation, and come with the territory. Endorsing political candidates though is a whole can of worms that is best avoided. Kudos to the city council for making the right call.

Author:  Crescent-Zephyr [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Politics aside (which I agree.. make sure your museum is politics free.)

It's a shame this locomotive is being removed from the museum property I realize there was little chance for an operational restoration in the next decade or so.. but this comes closer to sealing her fate. Seems it would made a lovely addition as a cosmetic display for the museum.

I think museums should think long and hard about their role in PRESERVING historic pieces of equipment properly.

(I love the Boone operation.. lovely ride. I'm hoping they can get 8419 steaming again soon.)

Author:  JimBoylan [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Steamguy73 wrote:
It was the last steam locomotive in the US to operate in common carrier service, last operating on September 8th, 1986.
I wonder how long until Strasburg RR uses a steam locomotive in its US common carrier freight service and claims this record?

Author:  xboxtravis7992 [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

JimBoylan wrote:
Steamguy73 wrote:
It was the last steam locomotive in the US to operate in common carrier service, last operating on September 8th, 1986.
I wonder how long until Strasburg RR uses a steam locomotive in its US common carrier freight service and claims this record?


Already have...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgtvRrD5EWo

Author:  Chuck Richards [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Right.

And if it had been a BLM poster, nobody would have
bothered it. They would have just left it there and nobody
would have said anything.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

The other time this issue has conspicuously arisen has been campaign trains/photo ops.

There have been some notable and not-so-notable campaign trains in the preservation era, from simply short "photo op" trains where a local or state candidate is backed into a station or speaks from a rear platform car to Reagan's long-haul train across Ohio in 1984 and Obama's ride to the 2013 inauguration down the Northeast Corridor.

The proper question to ask in any such circumstances is simple: IF some candidate or politician were to ask to use your operation as a setting for a campaign commercial or event, what would you say?

In theory, the proper answer is "As a 501(c)3 non-profit [provided you are], we can't play favorites; here is our schedule of fees, now let's go over what you want to do versus what's mechanically and legally possible......"

If you're a for-profit operation, same situation--we don't play favorites; this is what it would cost......

In either case, you have to include in your contract either the cost of obscuring any identification of your operation with paint or whatever, and/or supervising the final edit to ascertain you look "generic".

With privately-owned equipment, of course, the owner(s) may themselves have a "veto" for ideological reasons. I have heard rumors of two instances where someone's "political" use of rail equipment was nixed by an owner of the "opposite" political party, and there may have been more.

There is, of course, the issue of one extant "armored" PV, the Ferdinand Magellan. It was notably not used for Obama's pre-inauguration ride, with the Georgia 300 instead used. I have no idea if the issues were mechanical, logistical, a friendly owner, or whatever.

Finally, there is/was the case of certain political figures owning PVs themselves outright. I can think of at least two outright in years past.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Chuck Richards wrote:
Right.

And if it had been a BLM poster, nobody would have
bothered it. They would have just left it there and nobody
would have said anything.


What I was told was that the parties in charge of the move were adamant that NO politics be displayed or involved. We can argue whether "BLM" is "political" or not (but it most decidedly has become controversially political), or whether the politicians with the say would have been consistent or instead would have been afraid to meddle with such a "hot button" topic (exploiting such cowardice seems to be a major BLM strategy), but the same rule/standards should have applied.

Author:  jayrod [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

It shouldn’t need to be said, but.... Just a friendly reminder to keep politics/campaigning at arm’s length or further if you’re a non-profit. Those lovely persons at the IRS just might decide to yank your exempt status if someone tosses them a hint.

And if you’re for-profit, don’t risk alienating a segment of your potential customer base. Keep it professional.

Author:  Zach Lybrand [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Chuck Richards wrote:
Right.

And if it had been a BLM poster, nobody would have
bothered it. They would have just left it there and nobody
would have said anything.


Can we all take a moment to appreciate the irony of Chuck bringing up something divisive and political in a thread on a preservation forum about keeping away from things divisive and political in preservation?

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

Image

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

jayrod wrote:
It shouldn’t need to be said, but....


It does.

Maybe not to boards of directors, or curators, or operations managers, or your attorney, but to the rank and file.

Every one of the (thankfully, very few) egregious violations of such "common sense" I've witnessed were committed by "rank and file" volunteers or members at the very bottom of the chain of command. Worst, the one instance I saw where the perpetrator was being figuratively "taken behind the woodshed" to beat sense into him, he still couldn't see the error of his ways even after explicit explanation. (He might have been later ejected from volunteering, I dunno.)

More importantly: most of these were committed online, on forums such as this or on their own websites or social media outlets.

Author:  PaulWWoodring [ Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics

While I'm sure the campaigns paid for them, the Reagan and George W. Bush campaign specials were operated by CSX, with CSX equipment when they didn't have to, which is at least a tacit endorsement of the candidates. The Bill Clinton 1996 Democratic Convention special from DC to Chicago and the Obama Inaugural NEC special were paid for by their respective campaigns/inaugural committees as Amtrak charters, which while Amtrak didn't have to run them, I'm sure generated revenue and PR for them, like the 1983 Real People Express, and the 2008 Good Morning America trains.

Also, Magellan isn't the only possible secure presidential PV around. For the 1996 Clinton convention special, Georgia 300 was fitted with bullet-proof glass and wired for the communication equipment. I believe that CSX similarly outfitted their open-platform business car that was used for the George W. Bush campaign train in 2000.

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