|Brown tours Beth. Steel Machine Shop No. 2|
He explained that Kim Plyler will be "telling the story of the county," calling our local government a "$1 billion machine driving the local economy." He dismissed concerns that an outside firm would be less effective than an insider with a more detailed knowledge; the danger that it could be perverted into a publicly-financed propaganda machine for him; or worse, that Plyler ould use insider knowledge to open doors for other possible vendors like Donna Taggart.
Interestingly, Taggart just happens to be a County vendor, and one who shares office space with Plyler.
At one point, Plyler jumped into the conversation to state she no longer wants to read press comments, indicating that efforts to reach Brown or her were unsuccessful.
"I have five people in my office," she said, but was told that efforts to reach her and the five people in her office have been unsuccessful.
Brown insisted that he could not hire a press spokesperson because the "position does not exist internally", although Executives have used their Directors of Administration to handle press relations for at least the past sixteen years. In fact, yesterday, I received two news releases concerning the County, from county workers. One announces a new Citizen's Academy. The other highlights the official dedication of the new Human Services building.
Neither of these announcements came from Plyler or anyone in her 5-person office.
I asked Brown about a Sahl photographer in Bethlehem last week for the Governor's visit. I asked specifically whether we might see those pictures again in an election contest. Brown stated they were for a newsletter to County employees. He indicated that his intention is ultimately to have some sort of newsletter to the public, paid for by the public. "When we're ready to share more of the plan, we'll do it.At this point, we're not ready to share that part of the plan."
Though Brown's relations with the press appear to be strained, the Executive appears to be making inroads with County staff. He's already attended several union meetings, which is almost unheard of in a County Executive. He spoke hopefully about a brown-bag lunch he's palling with Gracedale nurses, and stated he has an "open door" policy.
"Any employee can stop by," he stated.