|City Will Consider PR
September 9, 1996
WEST COUNTY TIMES
Monday, September 9, 1996
RICHMOND The consultant who publishes the city's newsletter and who helped organize Richmond's 90th birthday party is set to receive a new $48,000 public relations contract with the city, pending approval by the City Council on Tuesday.
Consultant Vern Whitmore cites his accomplishments for the last year as conducting a campaign with the Chamber of Commerce to improve Richmond's image, a media roundtable with the West County Times and design of city ads placed in local publications.
Whitmore also coordinates production of the Richmond Press, a city newsletter that was originally scheduled to appear quarterly. Its last issue came out in January.
The contract is not without controversy.
Councilman Tom Butt told fellow council members Tuesday that other public relations professionals in Richmond had complained about the fact they were not given the opportunity to try for the job.
"I think this should be a competitive contract," Butt said. "Some people are very upset about this. I don't think it's good public policy."
City Manager Floyd Johnson anticipated the question, responding that he believed Whitmore to be the best person for the job.
Councilwoman Donna Powers said she had had difficulty getting Whitmore to respond to her request for an article about the Rosie the Riveter project in the Richmond Press. What finally appeared was a tiny notice, Powers said.
Whitmore said Friday that the Press got only a small flier about the project and that they put in all the information they received.
Whitmore has worked for Richmond since 1994, when the P-W Group, a partnership between Whitmore and former Times editor Al Pacciorini, began publishing the Richmond Press.
Whitmore's own firm, VSW Associates, got a one-year contract from Richmond last year, also for $48,000, records show.
Whitmore and Pacciorini collaborate on Chevron's in-house newsletter, but are no longer business partners.
Several council members praised Whitmore on Tuesday.
"I think they have done an excellent job providing publicity for the city," said Councilwoman Irma Anderson.
Whitmore has been criticized by residents, however, for his work on the city's 90th birthday party last year.