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City Cancels PR Contracts

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 4, 2009 4:40PM

2009_3_daley_richard.jpg Less than 24 hours after announcing that the Daley administration had signed another $5 million dollar contract for public relations services for the city, (bringing the total number of contracts to 11), the city abruptly canceled all the contracts. Facing criticism from angry aldermen that the city was facing a huge budget crisis this year, Daley back tracked. "They're going back on what they said. They said they were going to freeze these contracts," said 32 Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack.

Late last year Mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard said that the city wouldn't spend any money on PR until the budget crisis was over. Nevertheless, the city Department of Environment signed the 11th contract in mid-February. When contacted by the Sun-Times, Heard said "a lot of pamphlets and brochures we do are in English. Often, the information needs to be communicated [to neighborhoods] where English isn't the first language," she said. "No funds have been expended, and it's highly unlikely any will in this economic climate. Every department is aware of our financial constraints, and these types of services are not considered essential."

"We get it. We absolutely get it. We understand that it would seem absurd at a time like this to be using taxpayer funds for this kind of non-essential service," said Heard in announcing the cancellation of the contracts. "It's been made abundantly clear to every department that they are not to use these contracts. But I suppose someone could feign ignorance and use them anyway. This will preclude that misstep. The door is locked shut on the use of these kinds of firms at this time."