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Solobay's resolution? Indecent exposure

| Sunday, Dec. 14, 2003

In Washington County, they probably will be talking for years about the time one of their own knocked a national clothing retailer to its knees.

Last week, Abercrombie & Fitch abruptly said it was discontinuing its provocative quarterly magazine. The announcement came just days after the company pulled its racy holiday guide featuring photos of nude and semi-nude models in suggestive poses.

Who do we have to thank for the teen-oriented retailer gaining a sudden toehold on the rungs of decency• None other than Tim Solobay, the extremely powerful and well-known Democratic state representative from ... wait, let me look it up .. oh, right, Canonsburg.

The state being well into its sixth month without a final budget, Solobay took a stand. With school districts running out of money and libraries threatening to close, he acted on behalf of all frustrated and outraged Pennsylvanians.

He introduced a resolution in the state House condemning Abercrombie & Fitch's marketing practices.

The clothing company, he said, "needs to publicly acknowledge that its marketing practices are corrupting the youth of America. It also needs to consider pulling all of its seasonal catalogs."

Groups such as the American Decency Association, Focus on the Family, and, I believe, the Society Against Suggestively Posed Models had previously denounced Abercrombie & Fitch.

None of those organizations carries the clout of the extremely powerful and well-known Democratic state representative from ... I'm sorry, I'll have to check again ... oh, right, Canonsburg.

News of Solobay's demands were carried on nearly a single TV station and covered by almost one newspaper across the state. Then things snowballed. The cable news networks and national wire services thought about picking up the story. Before deciding against it.

No surprise that Abercrombie & Fitch buckled under such pressure.

The company had yet to comment on Solobay's actions, so I called its New York office to ask how sore everyone there is with the state representative.

"Who?" Abercrombie & Fitch spokesman Hampton Carney said.

"Tim Solobay, the powerful and well-known state representative from ... here in Pennsylvania," I said.

"Never heard of him," Carney said.

I reminded him about Solobay's resolution and the extensive coverage it might have received had any media outlet been remotely interested.

"The resolution had nothing to do with it," Carney said, obviously reciting the company line. "We believe it's time for new thinking and look forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign in the spring."

Solobay could have spent his time attempting to craft a solution to the state budget impasse. He instead took on Abercrombie & Fitch, and the company's marketing efforts will be less risque as a result.

Maybe next he'll tackle another pressing matter to Pennsylvania taxpayers and call for more modest attire for Britney and Christina.

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