Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Juan Montoya Uncovers Total Misrepresentation, Scamming by the City of Brownsville on Branding Contract


By Juan Montoya

From the very start there was something fishy about the game played by City of Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez and the Hahn Communications vendors.

Ostensibly, Hahn was bidding against three other firms to snare the city's rebranding efforts.
Although Hahn – represented by former television new anchor Ronnie Oliveira who also happens to be State Rep. Rene Oliveira's cousin – did not rank on the top of the firms, a majority of the city commission voted to award them the lucrative $140,000 contract to "rebrand" the city's "On the Border By the Sea" slogan to reflect its new image.

With city commissioner Rick Longoria absent because he was doing a DJ gig at the Mexican Consulates' 16 de Septiembre bash, Commissioners John Villarreal and Debbie Portillo joined Rose Gowen and Martinez to give Oliveira the go ahead. Only Cesr de Leon and Jessica Tetreau voted against it.

The contract was approved in September 2014 for nearly $140,000. Almost $90,000 came from the city of Brownsville, $25,000 from the Brownsville community improvement corporation and another $25,000 from Brownsville Economic Development Council.

During his presentation, Oliveira summoned the ghosts of his family and their native roots to endear himself to the majority.
However, during the discussion, it was learned that more than 80 percent of the respondents to N online poll did not like it.

Although a committee of 20 people worked directly with the public relations firm, they also did not expect the public's rejection of the newlogo "Igniting the Future of Texas," an obvious attempt to hitch their slogan to the coattails of the coming of SpaceX launches here.

The committee met every two weeks over a period of six months answering questions and reviewing logos. The firm also conducted public surveys with over 500 residents participating.
"I think it's great that the marketing firm wanted to market Brownsville for what we're becoming, but I just personally don't feel that you don't have to give up who you are to impress people, said Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa. Tetreau-Kalifa voted against the logo. She was shocked to see the commission vote for it despite 500 people voting against the logo and only 20 people voting in favor of it through a survey.

"I was hoping from the data from the public, maybe the commission would consider holding off or exploring another option, bringing a second option to the table," said Tetreau. The city plans to integrating new branding and use marketing strategies and tactics designed to enhance Brownsville reputation as a successful and business-friendly city.  However, the city commission reconsidered the logo change and a majority of the commission vote to keep the old one.
During the discussion on the money paid to Hahn Communications, Villarreal said that in speaking with the city’s purchasing director, Roberto Luna, he learned that the new city logo and tag line cost the city $21,500. The total stemmed from the group’s countless meetings with focus groups and
stakeholders, he said.
“That money was already spent as part of the overall plan,” Villarreal said. “I hope people understand that.” Tha was on November 2.
An information request to the city indicates that it has paid much more than the $21,500 Luna asserted.
In fact, the city has been paying Hahn since September 2014, fully a year before its bid was chosen over the other firms. In fact, it has paid them more than the $140,000 in the contract approved by the city. Record show that it has paid Hahn $152,675.16 in seven checks. The funds were taken from Dept. 9110, Acct. 876-292.
Two of those – check #248899 for $56,069.51 and check #247694 were for $38,127.38 – were over the $35,000 discretionary spending by city administration (namely city manager Charles Cabler). City rules state that any purchase over $35,000 must come before the city commission. (Click on graphics to enrlarge.)
Did the city commissioners know that Hahn Communications was already "in the pipeline" to receive the funds. The account is named "Contingency Branding and Marketing," indicating that the efforts at "rebranding" and using Oliveira's outfit was well under way before the commissioners knew of the relationship/ Did Hahn lend a hand to city purchasing to form the specifications for the "rebranding" campaign?
With some city administrators and commissioners content to let Hahn continue working under the radar on the "marketing" of the city's image, does it mean that it has tacitly approved the expenditure of the $820,000 marketing budget submitted by Hahn?
Why were the people (and some commissioners, apparently) kept out of the money loop?

1 comment:

  1. This is one illustration of one instance of how cronyism (Martinez et al kissing up to Oliveira), nepotism (Oliveira and family), and willful ignorance (Brownsville Herald) combine to form the corruption that has plagued this city and county for decades. City administration goes along to get along and tax payers be damned. This scenario happens more often than not. The tag line should have been "the kick back capitol -keeping corruption uncaged."
    Here's a big fuck you to each of you who play a role in keeping corruption alive and well. There's a special place in hell for your bloated souls.



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