Seattle City Light Wants A Refund On Their Online Reputation Boosting Bill Funded By Taxpayers

from the streisand-multiplier dept

So let's say you're a highly-paid CEO of Seattle's publically-owned utility company, City Light, and you've just been ironically kicked around in the media for a couple of weeks because you spent public money to boost your own reputation. Let's say that, far from being successful in said reputation-boosting, you're now facing questions over why you spent thousands of dollars to do this in the first place and that now all search results tend to point to this story rather than whatever it was you were originally trying to drown out. What do you do?

You ask for a damned refund, of course. And that's exactly what City Light's chief, Jorge Carrasco, is going to do, even if it has to spend even more public money to get that public money back.

The project was concocted by the CEO’s chief of staff, Sephir Hamilton. In an interview with Ars, Hamilton said that the agency may even file a lawsuit to enforce this refund.

"We're leaving our options open,” he said. “I hope that they'll see that what we signed up for was not the service that they delivered. We were sold one bill of goods and we were given another.”
Ah, yes, the old "spend more public money on a lawsuit to get a refund on the public money we shouldn't have spent" strategy. I like it, not only because it's hilariously recursive, but because it allows for the possibility that City Light loses and the maximum amount of taxpayer money is spent inappropriately. Not that the folks they decided to do business with, Brand.com, seem to be anything remotely resembling reputable (editors note: alliteration combo!).
“We were told that they would provide help in getting some of our past material and news releases placed in reputable blogs and journals and ultimately didn't know that they would be paying for placement or creating fake news websites to place that news,” Hamilton said in an interview. “And ultimately, all of the material that was generated has been taken off search results because it violated Google's policies.”

E-mails from City Light show that Justin DeLisi, a Brand.com campaign manager, provided links to “stories” posted to websites that have since been pulled down and that appear to have been utterly fake. The "whois" information on those domains, which include weeklytimes.com, gazers.com, and advisories.com, is also obscured.
So, just to summarize, City Light, a publically owned utility, paid a shady reputation company thousands of dollars to placate the ego of its CEO and now wants a refund because said shady company wasn't able to produce results. Oh, and they're willing to spend the money to file and fight a lawsuit to get this refund. Look, at some point you just have to stop digging, even if you've legitimately been had. City Light's reputation hasn't been done any favors by any of these actions. Jorge Carrasco may want to take a little bit of advice from himself.
Carrasco said at a press conference that he regretted the entire effort to scrub his online reputation. Hamilton concurred. “It was an experiment that certainly didn't work and we would not do it again,” he told Ars.
Right, so just extend that regret out to this entire situation and stop digging yourself holes. Come on, guys, I don't want to have to write a third post about you.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 7:49pm

    Sounds fair

    They should get back every single penny of theirs that they spent on the attempted reputation whitewash, which is to say none of it, given they were using taxpayer money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 8:52pm

    Re: Sounds fair

    Or they could force the CEO to spend his own money on filing the lawsuit and fine him for misappropriation of public funds

    but that would be sane and rational and would mean rich people don't get special treatment

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:45pm

    fine him? try jail for theft of public funds.

    Why has he not been charged?

    Oh yeah, in the 1% not the 99%.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Mark Noo, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:23pm

    Why not try embezzlement

    The City Lights boss should embezzle as much public money as he can and then quit. Lawsuits are for sissys.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jul 18th, 2014 @ 12:36am

    What was said, versus what was meant:

    Fantasy press release:

    Carrasco said at a press conference that he regretted the entire effort to scrub his online reputation. Hamilton concurred. “It was an experiment that certainly didn't work and we would not do it again,” he told Ars.



    Reality Press Release:

    "Carrasco said at a press conference that he regretted getting caught with his pants down around his ankles, with the entire effort to scrub his online reputation, but is glad that only taxpayer money was spent and not his own. Hamilton concurred. “It was an experiment that certainly didn't work, because we got caught, and we would not do it again, unless we're pretty sure we won't get caught” he told Ars."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 18th, 2014 @ 3:51am

    He should have learned from the White House. All that matters is that you are awesome. Only that he should stretch before patting himself in the back to avoid collarbone issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Bt Garner (profile), Jul 18th, 2014 @ 4:43am

    Re:

    Hey now! I am sure the District Attorney will file a suit just as soon as he is done with his coffee.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Beefcake (profile), Jul 18th, 2014 @ 8:15am

    He's already the highest paid Seattle city employee, and was about to be given a $60k annual raise when this story came out. That raise was rescinded, so at least there's that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Josh (profile), Jul 18th, 2014 @ 8:42am

    responsibility?

    Carrasco choose this company, therefore must have checked sources, researched, etc. What does this say about his choices? Shouldn't the city start looking at what else he has done?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2014 @ 9:18am

    Say WHAT??

    Let's see: a public official, who's in charge of a public utility, spends public money in an effort to clean up HIS OWN PERSONAL REPUTATION, and now wants to spend much more public money to sue the reputation clean up company for breach of contract. Sounds like embezzlement to me.

    Also, since the public utility has a budget for operations, the money should come out of that budget, and when they run short toward the end of the year, said official should get fired for running out of money, if he still has a job, that is.

    Actually, the total cost of all of this, the initial effort plus later legal costs, should be paid for by him, personally. None of this is public business, and has nothing to do with the utility or it's operation. Who's kidding which here??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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