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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WW government p.r. exposé leaves out big fish

Willy Week continues to do great work in exposing the government public relations juggernaut that is draining the Portland area's tax coffers dry while poisoning impressionable minds with bureaucratic propaganda. But in its listing today of flacks at the Port of Portland, it left out Tom Imeson, the ultimate Goldschmidt crony, who when last heard from was raking in a good load of cash as the Port's "director of public affairs." That's a p.r. job, isn't it? At least a good part of the time.

The fact that Imeson didn't make the WW roster shows that if anything, the numbers of flacks and amounts of salary portrayed in the weekly's series understate the problem. And it remains to be seen what is going to be done about it. Certainly at a minimum, candidates for public office ought to start hearing questions and comments about it at every turn. Government in these parts has devolved to a constant and expensive flow of hot air, with little or no substance.

Comments (9)

As the author of the WW article, I can say that we debated whether to include Imes in the list. But we ruled early on to limit it to people who spend most of their work hours actually providing information to the public. As one of eight directors at the Port, Imes is pretty far removed from that task, although his title is "public affairs director."

But for the curious: Imes' salary is $194,610.

They also left out Trimet's Carolyn Young at $160k, although maybe her "communications" is supposedly internal rather than external.

The answer to most problems seems to be "more PR" (see earlier post about the Central East Side). This is clearly a case of "if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail".

In some organizations the director (or manager) of public affairs is a person who heads up the lobbying function i.e. his/her focus is on influencing legislators rather than the general public. This may be the case with Imeson. But whichever role he's playing, it's a total waste of hard-earned taxpayer money.

The answer to most problems seems to be "more PR"

Only when you want to camoflage the fact that you're really not doing anything on the taxpayer's dime.

Steve's Corollary - More PR = Less actual work-product

In 2004, the Salem Statesman Journal in a series of articles accused Tom Imeson of numerous instances of influence peddling in the Kulongoski administration. The editorial that concluded the series described what it called the "Goldschmidt-Imeson-Kulongoski web" as, "It's enough to make Oregonians sick to their stomachs about state government."

Of course, that didn't stop Bill Wyatt from hiring Imeson at the Port of Portland, or Kitzhaber from appointing him as his transition chief.

Hasn't Imeson been the Goldschmidt replacement?

Left off the list of City of Portland PR staff are Jimmy Brown, the Portland Water Bureau's lead PR guy and a childhood friend of Randy Leonard.

A friend of Ty Kovatch's wife who was hired into a PR position at the Water Bureau is also not on the list(can't think of her name at the moment, but WW reported on her hiring.)
I would guess that their combined salaries would add close to another couple hundred thousand to the City total.

It's getting to the point that when one local government employee picks up a shovel and digs one shovel full then 129 different government PR flakes sends out a press release glamorizing the feat-that's part of the job anyway.

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