Saturday, May 12, 2007

An Appropriate Name

As a rule, I oppose naming public places for living individuals, and certainly for living public officeholders. For one thing, it looks a lot like political payoff.

In Prince William County, we have the Kathleen Seefeldt Parkway, appropriate enough, with enough traffic likes that it's mostly like a "parking-lot-way." Then there's the "John Jenkins Neighborhood Park," named for the current Neabsco District Supervisor.

At a minimum, with few exceptions, the person for whom a public place is named should be dead for a period of time, so that such tributes are made in the fullness of time, and not out of emotionalism or mere sentimentality. They should be made at a point (when, I'm not entirely sure) when a lasting contribution can be measured. For the same reason, if America decides to repeal that portion of Article II which limits the presidency to natural-born citizens, it should not go into effect for at least 25 years, so it will have been done for principled purposes, and not merely out of fleeting popularity for a particular politician.

Nevertheless, today, Prince William County dedicated its new office building to Sean T. Connaughton, the former Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors. A singularly hideous, ultramodern glass building, it sits behind the McCoart Building, and in front of the County Sports Complex.

My undertstanding is that it is to house a large portion of the County bureaucracy.

That is why I have no problem with naming it for Chairman Sean. Given his enthusiasm for growing the bureaucracy at the expense of the taxpayers, it's difficult to imagine a more appropriate name for the County's bureaucrats' warehouse.

UPDATE: My wife told me that she mentioned to our boys that we had seen County Executive Craig Gerhart (with whom we attend church) today, and they asked why he was there. When she explained that they were dedicating a building, they asked "To whom?" She answered "Sean Connaughton." Their response? "Who's he?"

Out of the mouths of babes....


Charles said...

Don't forget the Hilda Barg Homeless Shelter.

Or my favorite, the Robert C. Byrd State of West Virginia.

OK, I made the 2nd one up. It just SEEMS like the entire state is named after him. And sometimes, it just seems like he is still alive.

Scott said...

Are the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS George Bush justified in thier naming or timing there of? Or how about Reagan National Airport?

I agree with the policy of not naming things after living people. And it needs to be applied equally across the board. While I do not dispute any honor given to Ronald Reagan, should have the naming of federal buildings and airports waited until after his death? I'm not sure, but I think there are nautical traditional reasons why ships are named after people regardless of they are living or dead.

One thing I learned during my campaign was - don't run against someone who has something named after him.

Also we should start advocating to have a run down sputtering tug boat named after Bill Clinton, before our next super carrier, future pride of the US Navy has to bear the name USS William Jefferson Clinton.

James Young said...

You raise a good point, Scott (Hirons, I assume), and it's a principle which gives one pause. One MIGHT make the case for Reagan given his relative infirmities, and even for Bush, given his experience in World War II. But I recognize that application of this principle might require that we accept the bitter with the sweet. I don't thing we can honestly dispute --- with a straight face, anyway --- that one of the primary motivations behind those who wish to slap Reagan's name on things is political.

One of the things that always caused me discomfort with having a Federal holiday named after MLK III is the fact that I went to law school with his daughter Bernice. Not that he may not deserve the honor; not that I don't/didn't like Bernice. It just strikes me as somewhat unseemly to do so absent the thoughtfulness that comes with the fullness of time.