On WRKO Radio (AM 680) this morning, Scott Allen Miller is raising a ruckus because “taxpayers” several years ago refurbished the landmark Citgo sign in Kenmore Square. Citgo, you see, is owned by the Venezuelan government, and Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, went off on President Bush yesterday.
Trouble is, Miller was wrong — in fact, Citgo refurbished the sign at its own expense, replacing the tubes with LEDs. Miller suggested that Mayor Tom Menino show the “courage” to turn off the sign. But as the Boston Globe’s Megan Tench reported in March 2005, it was actually Citgo, 20 years earlier, that wanted to turn it off, only to be told that the city wouldn’t stand for it.
Tench’s story does not say how much Citgo spent. But an op-ed piece published in the Globe the same day by U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., said it cost the company $1.5 million.
You can think what you want about Chávez’s outburst, Delahunt’s cozy relations with the Venezuelan government or whether Menino should turn off the sign. But the truth is that the refurbished sign was a gift from Venezuela to the people of Boston.
Update: Miller is challenging my account. I’ve asked for documentation. Stay tuned.