I would like to know why our president and vice president’s pictures are not in our Social Security office. And no, I am not happy about it! It is disrespectful, illegal and unpatriotic! Thank you. – Bonnie Alexander
Let’s be honest. These images come with a lot of political baggage, or shall we say presidential portrait portmanteau.
Some folks want to see the chief executive’s face gracing federal facilities, the same as you expect to see a grocery store manager’s photo near the checkout stations, a symbol of who is ultimately in charge of the joint.
Meanwhile, some folks cringe in the presence of presidential visage, especially when the Oval Office occupier is a person whom many would never invite into their home.
This was true during the Obama administration, by the way. And for Bush, and for Clinton, and ...
It’s a no-win situation, so some government workplaces handle this controversy by avoiding it entirely. Take the post office, where presidential pictures are prohibited.
The official Code of Federal Regulations (39 CFR 243.2) couldn’t be more clear:
“Photographs of an incumbent or former president or postmaster general are not to be displayed in post office lobbies or in common use public service areas such as elevator lobbies and corridors in facilities owned by or leased to the Postal Service.”
Thus, at the post office you’ll see photos of criminals on display but not presidential portraits.
Oh, the irony!
So, no, it’s not “illegal” to not display the president’s portrait. At least not at the place where you can purchase stamps featuring presidential portraits.
But the question today is about Social Security offices, which are overseen by the GSA, or Government Services Administration.
It’s the agency that manages more than $54 billion in procurements and oversees 8,700 owned and leased properties.
Action Line called the GSA offices in Washington, D.C., early Friday morning. The person answering the phone seemed a bit distracted.
Nothing motivates like an impending unwanted vacation.
So a call was placed to the GSA regional offices in Denver, where Rich Stebbins, public affairs officer, became our newest good friend.
Rich returned Action Line’s call at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday evening with the federal shutdown clock ticking.
Now that’s dedication and professionalism. So here’s a shout-out for government employees; they’re good folks who endure needless insults and abuse.
Rich pointed out that Social Security offices are part of the GSA portfolio, which includes 615 buildings throughout Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
“It’s our policy that all federal buildings we own feature the official portrait of the president,” he said.
But here’s the catch. Durango’s Social Security offices are leased, so it’s the property manager’s call.
Not that this matters. President Donald Trump didn’t release his official portrait until Oct. 31, nearly a year after the election.
Action Line has to chuckle about unveiling a decorative presidential photo on Halloween.
In any case, Rich said the official portraits didn’t arrive at the Denver regional offices until mid-December.
From there, they were distributed during the holiday season to 615 buildings throughout Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Will the Trump-Pence portraitures proudly preside in Bodo Park? It’s hard to say. We don’t have a functioning federal government.
And that doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you knew that Trump’s official portrait features him smiling and wearing a blue tie, not the “You’re Fired” scowl with the red tie.