So far today we've heard from Ron Natinsky, David Kunkle, City Auditor Craig Kinton and even Mayor Dwaine Caraway about last night's Channel 8 story, which alleged that mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings used his influence as Park Board president to get city officials to hire his friend and former TracyLocke colleague Jake Schroepfer's ad agency for that Happy Trails safety campaign. Now, Mike Rawlings would like to have his say, as I asked his campaign for a statement concerning what he did or didn't do when Park and Rec officials awarded the contract without first issuing a request for proposals.
Without further ado, here is Rawlings's account in full:
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In an effort to move quickly to create a safety campaign after a runner was killed on the Katy Trail, the Parks Director asked me to recommend ad professionals who might be willing to work pro bono or for dramatically reduced rates. I gave them the name of three agencies.
Jake:Ferguson, which is one of the firms I recommended, offered to do a portion of the work valued at more than $200,000 for only $24,500 -- this amount included the out-of-pocket expenses of filming and editing three TV ads, radio ads and a web video, so to get these items for only $24,500 is an unbelievable value for the City. The creative director for Jake:Ferguson is nationally-recognized for creating the Crash Test Dummies seatbelt campaign for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and to get this level of experience for our safety campaign was a win for the Parks Department.
I was not involved in awarding them this business, negotiating the cost or the contracts. Those issues are between the firms involved and the City officials responsible for those duties.
It is important to note that Jake:Ferguson was one of five firms who contributed to this campaign. I am not familiar with the other four firms who did the majority of the work, so to accuse me of doling out work to friends is just not truthful. It also is unfortunate that corporate citizens who were willing to step up and donate their services to the City during a time of crisis are now being dragged into the negative attacks of a mayoral campaign.
Nonetheless, the City has a duty to taxpayers and citizens to look into this and make sure that there is complete transparency and that all laws were obeyed.