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PR Contract Cancellation: The Backlash?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 6, 2009 4:10PM

2009_3_waguespack.JPG Those 11 city PR contracts worth $55 million that the city canceled earlier this week? Not everyone is happy about them. In the comment section of a post about the city's move on PR Junkie, Queta Bauer, of Cultural Communications LLC, one of the firms that lost its city contract, let loose on the mayor's move:

Alderman Waguespack should look at the Spanish section of his own website. It is outdated and full of grammatical mistakes. That is the case for many materials the city produces. Many times, in the interest of saving money, they get well intentioned people who think they know Spanish and translate materials that result in real abominations and a waste of materials.

Our firm, Cultural Communications, LLC, has helped some city departments produce high quality materials in Spanish. We have also helped them deliver the materials and spread the word about the services the city provides to low-income residents. Because of certain socio-economic conditions, sometimes they are hard to reach. The city does not always have the capabilities to do that. If the Sun Times or the Chicago Tribune called this "being a spin doctor" I am proud of it. If helping the city deliver the message about preventing teen violence means working for the "highly controlled message of the Daley machine," I'm proud of it.

Cancelling [sic] the contracts means more people will be unemployed. In our case, we employ people from disadvantaged neighborhoods and try to mentor young people to get better jobs. They, together with the people from low-income neighborhoods in Chicago, are the ones who lose the most.

And she's right - Waguespack's site is littered with errors in Spanish. But Cultural Communications couldn't have helped with that anyway, at least not using one of the city's PR contracts. That's because his website is paid for by Citizens for Waguespack, the organization that raises money and develops messages for Waguespack the politician, not Waguespack the alderman. Perhaps Ms. Bauer's outrage should be directed at the mismanagement of city resources during the previous 15 years of economic expansion (including property values going up, and real estate taxes increasing). If city resources can't be used to help local businesses during an economic downturn, we've got bigger problems than too many contracts.

Thanks for the tip, Michael!