I’m cut ‘n pasting from Jim Casey’s Facebook post. Jim runs Preserve Burbank. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude for asking important questions.
Here is the email reply I received today after my inquiry into the PR company hired by the City of Burbank for our upcoming ballot measures (and I’m pretty sure for the push to increase our city sales tax in November). I hope you’re sitting down…
Dear Mr. Casey,
I was forwarded your email from the City Council concerning your questions about the hiring of our educational, outreach consultant, Cerrell. I’ve included the answers to your question as listed below.
1. Who authorized the hiring of an outside PR firm to promote these measures? On March 6, 2018, during the mid-year budget adjustment, the City Council approved the hiring of Cerrell “to have a professional communications firm (Cerrell Associates) conduct a robust public education and outreach program to provide residents with information on the potential November 2018 ballot measure and demonstrate the importance of dedicated local funding and the seriousness of the city’s fiscal situation.” To prepare for the November election, Cerrell has also been helping city staff with the June measures to ensure that Burbank residents are informed and educated regarding the facts. Cerrell was selected after a competitive bidding process was conducted.
2. How much is this firm being paid? The cost of the contract is $175,000 which includes hard costs. The majority of this is used for materials. Cerrell’s fees total $76,000 for work being conducted between March and November.
3. What scripts are being used to answer questions? The information being shared with the Burbank public is presented on the website, burbankelections.com. Here you will find current information regarding the June measures, questions and answers and the PowerPoint presentation used for public outreach and educational meetings.
4. Who wrote these scripts? The educational materials were written by both Cerrell and City staff. All have been reviewed by the City Attorney to ensure compliance with the law to provide factual information that does not persuade or influence.
5. What phone list was provided to this firm for contacting members of the community? The phone list being used to conduct outreach includes a diverse range of stakeholders groups within the City of Burbank. It is attached.
6. Who provided this list? The list was developed by city staff with the help of Cerrell and encompasses a wide range of groups.
Asst. Community Development Director
Business & Economic Development
Communications Manager/Public Information Officer
City of Burbank
I replied with the following questions that I imagine will not be answered until next week:
Thank you for your prompt and informative reply to my email.
I have a few additional questions.
1. What specifically does “materials” mean as included in the “hard costs?” Does this include the Supplemental Voter Information booklets and postage? Can you include a breakdown of how this money is spent?
2. What outreach or public questions would need to be answered for measures that have no published “Arguments Against?” What is being told to callers who ask about this? Can you tell me what possible arguments there might be against these measures? I can’t seem to find any, anywhere.
3. How were “Arguments Against” solicited? How much public outreach time and money was spent to consider alternatives to the proposed measures?
I’ll let you all know what I hear back.