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Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray challenged to remove name from signs

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray talks to

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray talks to editors at Newsday in Melville on June 6, 2012. Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said Tuesday she doesn't intend to remove her name emblazoned on signs ranging from those in parks to the sides of sanitation trucks.

The issue, raised during Tuesday's town board meeting, comes after Newsday in July publicized the widespread practice of putting elected officials' names on a variety of items at municipal expense.

Felix Procacci, a frequent town critic and former Democratic challenger for the supervisor's seat, questioned a Labor Day advertisement featuring Murray's photo that appeared in a Franklin Square weekly newspaper. Murray said the ad was not paid for by the town.

Procacci asked Murray to pass a resolution to stop branding town projects with her name.

"I don't think that's necessary," Murray answered during the meeting's public comment period.

She said later that labeling town projects and property was important to differentiate local government vehicles and facilities so the public knows who to contact.

"I think the 30,000 calls we get each year shows people know who to call," Murray said. "As the leader, the buck stops here and I want people to know who to call with a complaint, a compliment or anything in between."

Procacci said the branding gives an unfair advantage to incumbents over other candidates running for office.

"It gives her [Murray] an extra oomph that other people don't get," Procacci said. "It's a question of public integrity. She's made herself a brand."

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine in late July started stripping his name off town signs in an effort to avoid similar criticism. As a Suffolk County legislator, he unsuccessfully tried to ban officials' names from signs.

Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery said officials' names can be easily removed from signs with vinyl letters once an elected official leaves office.

"The cost is insignificant as an incremental part of creating signage," Deery said. "You don't allocate the cost of the 10 letters that constitute 'Kate Murray.' "

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