Lewis and Clark County Budget Priorities: A PR Hack!

While Helena may be doing better than the nation during the Bush Recession, times are tough,and it’s important for government agencies to spend their money wisely. State workers saw a pay freeze, Helena teachers received a very small raise, and county workers have averaged a little more than a 1 per cent raise over the past few years.

These were all sensible decisions. That’s why I am so puzzled by the Lewis and Clark County Commissioners budget for 2010, which calls for hiring a public information officer.

What will this $65,000/year job, do? Well, an essential task: “educate citizens about various issues and keep the public informed.”

How have we survived without someone to educate us about various issues?

Government agencies love their press hacks. I don’t understand how positions like this are defensible at any time in Montana, much less in difficult financial times. Is the burden of the press so overwhelming in the nation’s second smallest media market?

Can anyone honestly that they’ve noticed an appreciable difference in the quality or quantity of information coming from the DPHHS since it doubled its media relations positions? How about when the Department of Corrections hired someone for $67k  to send out press releases? Of course not.

Snowplows. Sand. Road improvements. That’s how the county should spend our money, not on hiring someone to issue press releases or “educate” anybody.

Since the IR gave less than nine hours notice before the meeting, you might want to drop a line to a County Commissioner this morning, if you agree:

  • Andy Hunthausen, Chairman
  • Derek Brown, Member
  • Mike Murray, Vice-Chairman
  • If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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    Don Pogreba

    Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
    His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
    In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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