The Daley administration of Chicago City Hall abruptly canceled 11 Chicago public relations contracts with a $55 million price tag. Mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard explained the decision with a very interesting opinion:
“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. 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.”
The Chicago City Hall had 11 PR contracts on the payroll – one can only wonder why they needed that many. Today they canceled all contracts, cutting off payments to all the following: Jasculca/Terman Associations; MK Communications, owned by longtime Democratic strategist Marilyn Katz; Carolyn Grisko & Associates; Landrum & Brown, Inc.; Valerie Denney Communications; American Marketing Services; Better World Advertising; Interpro Translation Solutions; Metropolitan Group, LLC; Jim Mudd Advertising Agency and Cultural Communications LLC.
Considering that every City Hall department has at least one public information officer the use of so many PR firms was at least questionable. The decision makes sense, but the argument that PR is a “non-essential service” and that “The door is locked shut on the use of these kinds of firms at this time” already signal that the City Hall made a slight error firing its PRs so fast. The statements are even more surprising as they come from a “press secretary” who probably didn’t learn in school that it’s not wise to piss off your (former) PRs. We can only imagine the financial loss caused to these PR companies by this decision.
Cutting off 11 PR contracts (we can only wonder for what they were) doesn’t cut off Dana Herring’s paycheck. She serves as the mayor’s maestro of message she’s paid $12,500 a month, or $150,000 a year. The Mayor also launched his own YouTube Channel around this time. Now, seriously, is YouTube essential? I suppose the answer is yes. After all, even the Pope has His own YouTube Channel. Hallelujah!