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News Release: City Council Invests in Communications, Community Engagement and Enhanced Transparency while City Corrects Biased Reporting

Council’s action brings more resources for public outreach, communicating with the community and marketing Santa Clara as City officials clarify misrepresentations in the media

Post Date:01/15/2020 4:45 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 15, 2020

CONTACTS: Lenka Wright, Director of Communications, 408-615-5515 or lwright@santaclaraca.gov

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Enhancing community engagement and transparency: that’s what the City Council supported when it approved agreements with three communications consulting firms at the Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 meeting.

The consultants – 3fold Communications LLC, Circlepoint, and Singer Associates Inc. – will supplement staff resources by supporting proactive communications and marketing of local activities, services and programs. The goal is to increase resident awareness of all that’s available to them in The Center of What’s Possible.

The City selected the firms through a competitive procurement process. Each one will assist with different aspects of communications and community engagement, focused on community, business, employees and storytelling. Their services may include:

  • Jumpstarting the Love Santa Clara initiative;
  • Marketing Santa Clara and developing economic development materials;
  • Building media relations;
  • Producing more City stories about community enhancements, hyper-local updates and educational materials about clean elections/political campaigns; and
  • Developing strategies for enhancing engagement with residents, businesses and other stakeholders on critical issues that affect them.

  • The new consultants, 3fold Communications and Circlepoint, will meet the Mayor and Council during the second day of the City Council Priority Setting Session on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Singer Associates Inc. currently provides communications services with the City and Santa Clara Stadium Authority.

    The new agreements for communications and marketing services with 3fold Communications, Circlepoint and Singer Associates Inc. will be in effect through Jan. 14, 2025, dependent on the Council’s requested annual performance reviews and allocation of funds.

    Comments on San Jose Spotlight’s False Statements regarding Singer Contracts

    Unfortunately, during a time of unprecedented improvements to community engagement and transparency, San Jose Spotlight published an article by Janice Bitters that twisted the facts about information provided during the Measure A Ballot Measure in 2018. The City did not use public funds or resources for political purposes.

    Ms. Bitters demonstrates her complete bias in pushing a political agenda by disregarding the numerous attempts by staff to provide the facts, and instead chooses to use false accusations to make her “story” work.

    For example:
  • Ms. Bitters accuses City officials of not being able to account for work done by Sam Singer and magnifies an invoice for $125, and 30 minutes of work, to “review and approve Measure A talking points” to suggest public funds were used for political purposes - this is FALSE.
    • The City has communicated with Ms. Bitters on multiple occasions explaining that the development of materials and news releases for Measure A was a collaborative effort among communication experts that have expertise in developing information and education materials for ballot measures. This fact does not nicely fit into her “story.”
  • Ms. Bitters wants readers to believe that the City may have used public funds on political materials – this is FALSE.
    • All of the City’s news releases were used to inform and educate Santa Clarans about Measure A. They did not advocate for residents to vote a certain way. All information and education materials used for this measure were provided to Ms. Bitters and are still on the City’s website.
  • Ms. Bitters mispresents the City’s Email Retention Policy and leads the reader to believe that the City is destroying emails and documents – this is FALSE.*
    • On multiple occasions, staff informed Ms. Bitters of the city email retention policy. The City did its due diligence in searching emails from about two years ago and did not have responsive records to this request. To ensure the City had exhausted all avenues, the City reached out to Singer Associates, Inc. to request that their staff review records that may be responsive to this request. There were none. The City cannot produce documents it does not have and ALL final documents have been produced for Ms. Bitters and are still on the City’s website. Further, the City’s email retention policy is 90 days. However, there are certain emails – due to their contents – that employees archive for a longer time period to comply with the Citywide Records Retention Policy.
  • Ms. Bitters again suggests the City and Santa Clara Stadium Authority improperly procured the services of Singer Associates Inc. for the original contracts – this is FALSE.
    • Staff followed proper procurement processes to award the contract. Ms. Bitters instead continues to ignore the facts.

    The City used the communications services of Singer Associates Inc. properly for public information as evidenced by the lack of any political campaign materials in City records. To suggest otherwise misrepresents how the City used this communications consultant for the educational materials about this 2018 ballot measure and falsely accuses public officials of using public funds for political purposes.

    For more details about efforts to improve communications with the community about City activities, view the Report to Council from the Jan. 14 meeting.

    *Jan. 21, 2020 Update: the reporter's public records request was for emails between Singer Associates, Inc and the City Manager or the then-Community Relations Manager from the weeks of April 30-May 4,2018 and May 30-June 5, 2018. 

    About the City of Santa Clara
    Located at the heart of Silicon Valley about 45 miles south of San Francisco, the City of Santa Clara truly is “The Center of What’s Possible.” Incorporated in 1852, Santa Clara covers an area of 19.3 square miles with an estimated population of 129,498. Santa Clara is home to an extraordinary array of high-tech companies, including Applied Materials, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Nvidia, Oracle, and Ericsson. The City of Santa Clara is also home to Santa Clara University, California’s Great America Theme Park, and Levi’s® Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers and Super Bowl 50. For more information, go to SantaClaraCA.gov.

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