HIGHTOWER: Unexpected Advertising

Advertising, they say, is the art of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.Well pull over buster, because advertisers are beaming their sales pitches at you from all kinds of unexpected spots these days, including from police cars. Police in Crown Point, Indiana, for example, are raising revenues for lights and sirens by selling space on their cars, including ads for a car wash and a funeral home.The commercialized cop caper is just part of the retailing of local government, as public budget cutbacks have left front-line officials scrambling for funds. In Atlanta, for example, you might not be able to fight City Hall, but you can rent it for an evening and have your own social soiree -- maybe a costume ball with guests dressed as garbagemen.Speaking of which, New York City sure knows its market niche. For a fee, you can put your ad on a Big Apple garbage truck. Political ads would seem appropriate, don't you think? Hey, Al D'Amato, listen up, they're talking your language!Then there are the real public entrepreneurs -- governments that open their own retail shops, like Chicago's new official store offering such magnificent municipal mementos as manhole covers: "Be the first on your block to own a genuine, certified, City of Chicago manhole cover."But the grandaddy of government's new garage-sale mentality is the Los Angeles County coroner's office. Yeah, maybe they botched-up the OJ evidence, but they do know how to make a buck hawking their wares. Since 1993, the "Coroner's Store" has hauled-in half-a-million selling such souvenirs as personalized toe tags and boxer shorts called "undertakers."So why not apply this governmental hucksterism to the Pentagon -- if the generals want another B-2, let 'em have a bake sale.

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