Havre Daily News
With Bob Rice's announcement that he is seeking a second term as mayor, the "Get 'er Done Mayor Bob" slogan is once again the subject of controversy.
The city had ordered T-shirts with the slogan, minus the mayor's name - at a cost of $800 - for city employees to wear. But City Council member Tom Farnham, who chairs the council's Finance Committee, said today the city shouldn't pay for them because they could be construed as promoting Rice's campaign for mayor.
Farnham and several other Democratic City Council members - including Pam Hillery, a Democratic candidate for mayor - also questioned the appropriateness of bumper stickers carrying the slogan appearing on city vehicles.
Rice, a Republican, has said in the past that the slogan, which began appearing on bumper stickers around town in late May or early June, was not a city or a campaign slogan. Rice filed for re-election on Monday.
The bumper stickers were paid for by Rice's friend, Robert Floren, who owns Hill County Printing, and are intended to encourage Havreites to be active in their community, Floren has said.
Rice declined to comment today.
"I accept what Bob said about them earlier, but at this point, now that he's running, they do seem to indicate a campaign slogan," Hillery said Wednesday, "and I think it would be appropriate (for them) to be removed from city vehicles."
City Council member Allen "Woody" Woodwick said he hadn't heard of the T-shirts before this week, but thinks the shirts and the stickers are both a problem.
"I think that it's a political slogan, and the stickers on city vehicles should be removed," he said. "And I don't believe that the city should be paying for political slogans on T-shirts, either."
Farnham said he found the $800 invoice for the T-shirts while he was reviewing city expenditures on Wednesday. He said the shirts were ordered by deputy public works director Gary Schaub and were to be paid for out of the city's water and sewer fund. The invoice came from a company in Helena.
After finding the invoice, Farnham called Schaub.
"I told him it wasn't right," Farnham said. "My concern is if the mayor's logo is "Get 'er Done," something else should have been put on the T-shirts. The city has a beautiful logo that they could have used on that shirt."
That logo, "Pride of the Hi-Line," was designed by Hill County Printing and is already on some city vehicles, clothing and letterhead.
"These (T-shirts) could have had it as well," he said. Farnham said Schaub told him he would stop production of the shirts immediately, but that some of the work had already been done. The shirts were being printed as safety shirts for city employees, and would have been printed in easy-to-see, bright colors.
Schaub did not respond to a message seeking comment.
The full City Council will review invoices for city purchases on July 5.
City Council President Rick Pierson said he doesn't see much of a problem with the stickers, but that spending city money for the shirts is not appropriate.
"If Mayor Bob is going to use them for a campaigning promo, it would have to come out of his campaign funding," he said.
Hillery said spending $800 on T-shirts for the city that carry a slogan associated with Rice isn't the best use of city funds.
"It certainly doesn't seem like something that the city of Havre should be paying for," she said. "We don't have a lot of extra money anyway."
Terry Schend, the sole Republican City Council member, said he hadn't heard of the $800 expenditure, and that he will have to "see what it's all about" before he would comment. He said he had no opinion about the appropriateness of the bumper stickers on city vehicles.
Farnham said the bumper stickers should be removed from city vehicles.
"I really don't appreciate seeing "Get 'er Done" on the bumper stickers," he said.