25 September 2007

Hiring Government Goliaths

to take on one private-sector David:

Though (Hennepin) county's contract with New School Communications amounts to just $25,000, county officials acknowledged it was a sign of their concern with what they say are opportunistic and inaccurate statements being made by the landowners in an attempt to sway public opinion on the controversial project and land dispute.

County officials defended the county's decision to hire the company even though the county has a public affairs office with 16 employees and a $2 million annual budget. "It would take away from our core work," said Carolyn Marinan, the county's public affairs director. "This is not the type of work this office does.

Aron Kahn, a former St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter who is the primary spokesman for the landowners, said the reasons for hiring Olson's firm are clear. The "county commissioners had been pounding [on the landowners] for months, vilifying them with false claims," he said. "I guess the commissioners don't like it when someone pushes back."
The line that really scruffs me is the notion that a $2 million county public relations office is over their heads and incapable of taking on this work without adding bureaucracy and cost to taxpayers.

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