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Name Game: Greenberg on Edifice Complex in NYT

Updated: Apr 15

A New York Times story explores the trend of local communities naming schools and other buildings after President Barack Obama, with debate focusing on the appropriateness of naming public facilities for a politician who’s record is as yet unclear. Article includes interview with Arkansas’ own Rep. Dan Greenberg, an Arkansas Project contributor, who’s pushed to restrict the practice in this state with his “Edifice Complex Prevention Act”:

In Arkansas, State Representative Dan Greenberg, a Republican, has been pushing a measure to bar the naming of public buildings for living politicians, but the legislation has stalled. Mr. Greenberg said in an interview that such naming gave an unfair advantage to politicians seeking re-election, because it amounted to a “billboard” at public expense.

UPDATE: Additional comment from Michelle Cottle at The New Republic, who doesn’t necessarily see a problem with the practice, but allows for this:

Arkansas state legislator Dan Greenberg, who has introduced a bill to prohibit the practice, argues that such premature naming is tantamount to supplying taxpayer funded advertising for a pol come election time. This likely has more of a concrete impact at lower levels of public service than the presidency, but it’s a compelling point in general. Our system already stacks the deck in favor of incumbents. Why pile on?
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