San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 04/21/15, 5:14 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The voice of the city is now Monica Lagos, who since October has been a senior account executive at Westbound Communications.

Lagos was selected Monday for the manager of communications position that the City Council had created only minutes earlier, with both votes being 6-1 and coming after extended and sometimes heated discussion.

The hiring completes an ongoing effort to find someone to “tell the city’s story” as it attempts to get approval from the public and bankruptcy court for a Plan of Adjustment officials expect will be fiercely attacked by creditors.

“Transparency, transparency, transparency,” said City Manager Allen Parker, making a pitch after several community members questioned whether a “PR person” was a wise use of city money. “I am looking less at image-making than I am at telling a story that gets us through the bankruptcy.”

Parker had earlier recommended that the city contract with a public relations firm, saying the same price could get more service, but in March 4 of 7 council members rejected the firm that his interview panel recommended.

Council members said they couldn’t support hiring Tripepi Smith because of the cost — $215,000 over two years — the firm’s Orange County base, and the lack of any full-time Spanish speaking staff in a city that’s 60 percent Latino.

Lagos, a San Bernardino resident, speaks Spanish. She will be paid $106,200 per year, plus $34,675 in benefits.

That’s significantly more than the $72,000 per year that Desmond & Louis, based in Yucaipa with an office in Redlands, would charge, that firm’s president, Lou Desmond, tried to tell the council Monday.

Desmond had already used the three minutes of comment time allotted to members of the public, though, and so was not allowed to correct Parker when the city manager recollected a higher cost from the public bid he filed.

“Either he intentionally misled the council or he misled them unintentionally,” Desmond said Tuesday. “How does the city know they got the most qualified person? I also take offense to Mr. Parker saying, ‘We think it’s better to have someone without any political connections.’ What exactly is he intimating that I have? I don’t have any political connections to the city of San Bernardino.”

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