This week, we are taking a deeper dive into the City of Austin credit card expenditure regarding the $9,500 in videotaping and production costs for the Mayor's State of the City address last August.
- Last week, Adam Andrzejewski and the auditors at OpenTheBooks.com gave oversight to the $266,000 spent by the mayor and city council using credit cards -- including $160,000 on lunches, dinners, conferences, and travel expenses last year. Then, there was $9,500 spent to tape the mayor's state of the city address last August.
Seems like a lot of money is being spent. Is it necessary, Adam please give us an update.
Casey Chapman Ross- CCR Photo is a self-described political vendor. On her website, the firm is described as "leads Texas in advancing Democratic narratives." And their self-proclaimed goal is to "turn Texas into a swing state."
It was expensive. The vendor was political. And we found that the NPR local broadcast station filmed the speech for free and posted the speech to YouTube. No cost to taxpayers.
- Why did the city contract an outside company to videotape the State of the City speech?
It was unnecessary. The city already employs 173 people in communications, information, graphic design, marketing, and video roles costing taxpayers $13 million per year!
he city already employs:
66 public information specialists, managers, deputies, and senior public information specialists
39 communications officers and employees
27 graphic designers, content strategists and digital graphic designers
24 program managers for operational communications
and 14 video production techs, specialists, and managers EVEN one video engineer
And three 'forensic media specialists.'
Total annual payroll for these 173 employees? Est. $13 million. Eleven employees made $100,000 last year with the highest paid $154,000.
- So, you're saying that the city employs 173 communications and public relations officers and spends $13 million dollars a year on their payroll and benefits?
The larger public policy question is whether or not the city has crossed the line: providing information is important to an informed citizenry; however, the city's efforts here are looking like propaganda. Telling citizens what to think, not just providing information.
- Looking in the city checkbook, how much did this video vendor receive in other video work from the city last year?
The city spent $165,000 on 'video' services last year -- all on credit cards. The city has the finest cameras, lavaliers, lighting systems, video editing programs, etc.