Snohomish County buses turn down CeaseFire ads that King County Metro accepted

May 20, 2013, 8:15 AM | Updated: 10:46 am

The head of Ceasefire Washington says Snohomish County’s Community transit turned down the same bus ads that King County Metro accepted.

Director Ralph Fascitelli says the three ads are simply quoting the statistics on the consequences of gun ownership. “One ad says, ‘When there is a gun in the home there is a 5-time greater chance of suicide.’ Another ad says, ‘When there is a gun in the home there is a 22-time greater chance of killing a family member or a friend versus an intruder.’ A third ad says, ‘A gun in the home may be the difference between an argument and a funeral.'”

King County Metro accepted them, but a staffer at Community Transit refunded the group’s money, saying they were against the agency’s policy.

“They thought the ad was too controversial. We think the ads are pretty innocuous, and they’re aimed at educating and public health,” says Fascitelli. “They don’t call out any other group.”

Fascitelli says the CeaseFire Foundation is not a political group and is still considering how to respond.

“These ads are placed by the CeaseFire Foundation, which is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit. So, we’re not a political group. We’re dedicated to reducing gun violence. We don’t have any problems with the second amendment,” explains Fascitelli.

“Would your options include filing some sort of lawsuit?” asks Dave Ross.

“All options are on the table.”

The ads were refused because of a new policy banning ads on controversial religious, social, and political issues.

Washington CeaseFire is the first organization to have its ads rejected under the policy approved May 2. But it was not the target, transit district leaders said.

Board members had been working for months crafting rules to prohibit ads that could generate controversy and offend bus riders or create a perception the district was pushing a position on an issue.

The Everett Herald spoke to Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine, president of the Community Transit Board of Directors. He said “At the end of the day, we are a transit agency and doing that means we do not want to become caught in the middle of debates on controversial issues.”

Fascitelli hasn’t said how much the group wanted to spend, but said it was in the range of “five figures.”

But of Community Transit’s revenues, advertising accounts for less than 1 percent of annual revenues, district officials told the Herald. Last year, Community Transit took in nearly $550,000 in ad revenue out of a budget of $96 million.

While there is potential of losing money as a result of the policy, that didn’t factor into the board’s decision-making, according to Marine.

Marine said the board decided not to run any ads on buses to avoid “skirmishes” with groups like CeaseFire or the public.

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Snohomish County buses turn down CeaseFire ads that King County Metro accepted