Communication is key to Pima County’s economy

pima county communications departmentWhen government becomes one of the largest employers in an area, the desire by the unemployed or underemployed populace to maintain and grow its size, grows as well.

Pima County is not shy about expanding, and the desperate are happy to help it.

Last week, officials announced that Dave Hatfield, soon to be former editor of the failing Inside Tucson Business magazine, would be joining Pima County’s public relations team. Hatfield will be replaced at Inside Tucson Business with Mark B. Evans, editor of the failing TucsonCitizen.com, an online “community of bloggers.”

Hatfield is expected to join a Pima County government communications team headed up by former small advertising business owner, Jeff Nordensson. Nordensson replaced Sam Negri in January of this year.

Prior to being hired by Pima County, Nordensson’s firm had previously held the contract for Pima County’s media buys.

According to Nordensson, the Communications department consists of “3 writers here. We had one, but she decided that Barcelona was more fun than Tucson. Her departure opened the job sometime in mid to late May. We have 2 1/2 graphic designers, 3 1/2 videographers, and 2 ½ art directors, 1 social media editor/creative director.”

Including Nordesson, Pima County Communications Department employs 9 ½ full-time and part-time employees, yet still has the cash and apparent need to farm out media buys to the Bolchalk Frey Marketing Agency.

Hatfield’s base salary will be $55K.

According to Nordesson, the writers spend “a lot of time trying to figure out what is going on at different departments and also make what Pima County is doing more transparent.” Nordesson offered an example of the thought process behind the writers’ work. As an example, he explained that one of his writers, Diane Luber, did not mention in a press release issued last week that the Pima County Board of Supervisors gave $10K to the Borderlands Theater Group because it would not be “of general interest to the public.” On the other hand, she did mention that the County would be able to keep its lease with the Tucson Padres for a little bit more time until the team leaves town for good.

“Lots of things go on that before I took this job that I was not aware of. We determine whether something is note worthy, by whether it is in the general interest. It’s all available online, but it doesn’t generate a lot of interest. It is not a matter of trying not to bring something up. I don’t know if we would bring up the Raytheon lawsuit; that would depend on the issue at the time. We have tried to publicize the Michigan left turn because we know people have to change behaviors. It may not be controversial but it is something people need to know about.”

Nordensson said that despite being a government entity, they were making “subjective decisions about general interest, and we depend on media to take a look at what they think is of interest. There is a difference between what is available to the public and what we think is important for wider distribution.”

Luckily for the County, local media is shrinking, and few writers want to “expose” the corruption of what might be their only future chance for employment in Southern Arizona.

Evans has overseen the slow death of the Citizen after it went out of print. Hatfield, not known for his accuracy, has overseen Inside Tucson through its steady decline in readership and relevancy. According to insiders, Hatfield was anticipating a turnaround by Inside’s owners, Wick Communications.

According to the TucsonSentinel.com, “Top executives at Gannett Inc. don’t have a contingency plan for Evans leaving. Evans described the Citizen as an “orphan” despite being part of “the largest media company in the world.”

The Sentinel reported that Evans’ last day working for Gannett is Sept. 20; he starts with the Wick Communications-owned ITB three days later.

According to Nordesson, he hopes Hatfield will begin working for the County by October 1.

From the communication department’s webpage:

“The Communications Office proactively supports Pima County’s mission and strategic objectives. The Office provides creative services including editorial support, graphic and web design, logos, photography, publicity, and media relations for all departments. Our communications products enhance the County’s visibility, image, reputation throughout the state, U.S. and internationally.

Videos, brochures, press releases, maps, and bike helmet stickers for kids — if it has words, pictures, or graphics, we create it for the County.

Check out some our recent work below and use the tabs to discover how we promote the County’s identity, people, and programs.”

In one of his most ironic opinion pieces at Inside Tucson Business, Hatfield wrote in July of this year, “By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth…” and advised his handful of readers that “more of us should question what we’re being told.”

The Pima County taxpayers can at least say Dave warned them.

Editor’s note: Shortly after this article was published, Hatfield passed on the job with the County and decided to take a job with the Tucson Airport.

3 Comments on "Communication is key to Pima County’s economy"

  1. Well, Well, Well….Mr. Hatfield finally arrives….he was working “offsite” before for Chuck Huckelberry. Now he is just a little bit closer.
    That Communications group is there solely to push the democrat agenda….maybe Dave can help out with the campaign supporting the upcoming bond election. You know….
    Step 1 Build Coalition:
    contact every mayor and all the special interests to toss in their “wish list”
    Step 2: Stick your toe in the water
    tell the voters we want $1.2 bil -allow the outrage to go on for awhile. (even tell them your survey wasn’t good)
    Step 3: Look like a hero of the taxpayer
    Cut in half to $600 mil and the voters will think we are heros.
    Step 4: Dapper Dave and the crew can spew the pablum about economic develpment and jobs…these people will buy anything.
    Issue to resolve: people are pretty ticked off about the roads. Especially when we only allocated 5 mil for the whole county this year. But we did give the UA Health Center $30 mil last year….yes $30 million…had a little extra at the end of the year so they tossed in another 15 mil because…well you know…Doctors need to be educated.
    And UA gets another 15 mil this year…and we’ll have to see who gets the prize with the excess $$ left over at the end of the year…My bets are on UA again.
    That is correct we had extra cash $45mil….but still raised the tax rates so we could add another $35mil to the budget for this year.
    Eat cake taxpayer and enjoy your potholes!

    • The local elected officials are helping the UA build it’s own “Kingdom of Tucson” at our expense. Stadiums were not enough. These guys don’t need any jobs in Tucson except somewhere they can eat and make themselves fat.

      Corporate employers are smart to avoid these thieves.

  2. It is time people wake up to the fact that politicians do not care about its people. They only care about themselves. Vote everyone out, protest higher taxes, protest government edicts, remove as many people from government as possible.

    Tucson is in terrible shape and getting worse. The communists are winning.

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