San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 04/16/15 – 8:53 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The city needs a professional to clearly articulate the city’s activities and plans, especially beginning now, city leaders say, so they’re again asking the City Council to approve one — this time, addressing some of the criticisms that got the earlier proposal shot down.

In March, a majority of the council members said they couldn’t support spending $215,000 over two years contracting with an Orange County-based firm, especially given that none of the employees at the top-finishing public relations firm, Tripepi Smith, spoke Spanish.

So Monday, City Manager Allen Parker is asking the council to recreate an in-house position for a “manager of communications” that he hopes can be in place soon after May 1 to inform the public about the Plan of Adjustment the council is required to approve and submit to U.S. Bankruptcy Court by May 30.

“We have to do something,” Parker said by phone. “We’re getting ready to go public on the Plan of Adjustment. We have been sued by fire (union leaders), as usual — you can quote me saying, ‘as usual.’ In terms of our ability to contract out (the Fire Department), we have been threatened with a lawsuit. The need to have somebody capable of defending ourself to the public is going to be essential.”

Parker said that if the council approves the position, he intends to hire a Spanish-speaking San Bernardino resident with 16 years of public relations experience. He asked that the person not yet be identified as the position hasn’t yet been approved and she hasn’t given notice at the public relations firm where she now works.

In March, Parker and other officials argued that hiring a firm would be more cost-effective than hiring an individual because staff members with different skills can work as necessary without the city being responsible for benefits.

Other than the firm that was rejected and another that bowed out under political pressure, six other firms responded to the city’s request for qualifications, including from nearby cities.

A firm remains the ideal choice, Parker said, but he doesn’t think the council would approve any of the remaining firms.

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