Holt: State Logo Controversy a Graphic Illustration of Government Waste

Press Release from Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, 5/27/2015:

DRESDEN, May 26, 2015– Last week, investigative journalist Chris Butler uncovered a controversial story that has swept the state. Tennessee is getting a new logo. Did you know? I sure didn’t. As Butler dug deeper, he was met with stonewalling. Butler wanted the answer to a simple question. How much? How much did the taxpayers of Tennessee spend on this new logo? As it turns out, GS&F, a Nashville marketing agency, was paid $46,000 worth of your tax dollars to create our new state logo. As Butler stated, “This is something a fifth-grader could easily produce on his or her computer at home.” He’s right. As they should be, Tennesseans are furious. While calls of negligence can be heard loud and clear atop Rocky Top in Knoxville, mockery swells like the Mississippi in Memphis. In fact, this disaster in now making national news.

While one can certainly understand the need to unify the state’s branding, how was the mark missed by such a huge margin? Should our state logo not unify the state symbolically and literally? Unity is an astonishingly simplistic, but important concept. It is a concept that our tristar, the state’s current logo, perfectly portrays. Of course, given the fact that GS&F’s staff is composed largely of Tennessee transplants, this fact may have easily be lost on them.

The designer of the Tennessee State Flag, which proudly displays what is known as the tristar, was LeRoy Reeves of the Third Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, who explained: “The three stars are of pure white, representing the three grand divisions of the state. They are bound together by the endless circle of the blue field, the symbol being three bound together in one – an indissoluble trinity.”

The significance of our unification cannot be over emphasized. After the Civil War, after the failed attempt at creating the State of Franklin and other trials experienced by our great state, Mr. Reeves and others sought to perpetually unify our 3 grand divisions. – In our modern day, we should endeavor to do the same.

It’s simple, really. We’ve had the perfect logo all along. However, when it’s not your hard earned money, waste is inevitable.

Colorado just re-branded their state logo as well. The citizens were involved. Hundreds of businesses and consulting agencies around the world contributed. The cost? $0. Why? Because any advertising agency in the world would jump at the opportunity to say they played a role in designing a state’s logo. The value of that accomplishment is invaluable to small and large businesses alike.

Almost $50,000 worth of taxpayer dollars were, in my opinion, wasted, and not a single tax-payer had a voice in the matter. The bigger issue is how it was wasted. This was done behind closed doors. When questioned, journalists were initially met with resistance. Is this how we govern? If so, this reeks of Washington D.C. — Out of touch, and overpriced.

Revenue is up in virtually every department. Tax collections surpass expectations day after day. However, we are being heavily lobbied to raise taxes on Tennesseans. How can a single legislator justify a tax increase- one single red cent- when the state is literally lighting tax dollars on fire? It’s a hard sell. I’m not buying.

If you’re looking for a sign that Tennesseans should not have their taxes raised, and have every right to be upset over any such proposal, here it is.

If you’re looking for a sign as to why trust in government is at an all-time low, here it is.

Our tristar should be saved, and this type of mismanagement over taxpayer money must cease immediately. The Volunteer State deserves better.

*Andy Holt is the Republican State Representative from District 76 (Weakley, and parts of Obion/Carroll Counties)