WASHINGTON -- The Bangor Daily News published a public notice on Wednesday from the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) alerting the citizenry to an open meeting in the town of Islesboro to discuss a planned bridge replacement. It promised that representatives from the agency would show up and "listen, with fake sympathy" to the problems of the locals. It also said that candid photos would be "sneakily taken of awkward persons."
It certainly wasn't your typical government public service notice. Not surprisingly, it wasn't ever supposed to be published.
After the ad ran on Wednesday, Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt sent a letter of apology to the residents of Isleboro.
"This was an obvious spoof draft that was somehow emailed and published in the paper," he wrote. "This behavior is unacceptable and in no way reflects the values of the department or the seriousness and care in which the department treats its public input processes."
He added that "[a]ppropriate measures" were being taken to deal with the situation, but a spokesman declined to tell the Bangor Daily News whether the employee who made the spoof ad would be fired.
The ad read that the agency representatives would be "swimming in, if they miss the Quick Silver Water Taxi, on Tuesday evening, April 24, 2012, at 6:00 p.m., to listen, with fake sympathy, to stranded folks who missed the Ferry complain, receive dirty looks from the locals, and smell the sandbound fish, who missed the tide ride."
"We really don't care about the bridge," the ad continued. "We are just curious about these island folk. Anyone who happens by is invited to disrupt the meeting."
The interim advertising director for the paper, Steve Martin, also apologized for the error.
“The ad actually was sent to us twice, with the original proofread by staff,” he said in a statement. "Due to technical issues, the first version could not be processed properly, so the advertiser was asked to resend the ad, which was then processed. The problem was that we treated the second submission as a duplicate of the already proofed ad, which it clearly wasn't. This event reinforces the need to be ever vigilant in our efforts."
Image of the spoof ad, which was passed along to The Huffington Post: