Sunday, June 27, 2010

Davies Public Affairs hired by Redwood City

PR firm hired by Redwood City for $310,000 stays on sideline in jail debate

Three months after Redwood City hired a national public relations firm to help it fight San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks' plan to build a new jail in its downtown, the firm has been all but invisible while the city and county talk behind the scenes. 

The city council in March signed Davies Public Affairs to a $310,000 contract with the goal of deflecting Munks' plan to build a new jail on the 3.5-acre motor pool site at the county government campus.

Worried that a new jail would scare away developers and cripple its efforts to revitalize downtown, the city hired Davies to conduct a "comprehensive public information and advocacy effort," giving the firm 28 tasks, among them to "create and distribute a 'new jail' fact booklet" and to "mobilize opposition leading up to public hearings."

Since then, the only public sign of Davies' involvement has been an anti-jail website,, that went up for less than a day in early April and has been down ever since.

City Manager Peter Ingram said Davies has "done what we hired them to do" — quietly conducting polls, researching alternative sites and planning a public campaign that is "pretty teed-up and ready to go."

But Ingram said the city has decided to hold off on launching the anti-jail campaign while it negotiates with the sheriff behind closed doors, despite having spent roughly $200,000 in redevelopment funds on consultant fees so far.

Mayor Jeff Ira said he's been focused on talks with Munks over an alternative site and hasn't paid much attention to the consultant. He said the agencies are talking about at least two potential alternative sites, which he declined to identify.

"As soon as I saw things were getting real fruitful with Greg, I said, 'Hey, you need to get (the PR) people to stand down,'" Ira said.

The sheriff wants a new jail to relieve overcrowding in its existing facilities and contends the motor pool property would be the best location because the county already owns it and it's adjacent to the courts.


Posted by Steve Sinai


Anonymous said...

Is this the same outfit as Davies Communications?
That was the public relations outfit hired by Mr.Peebles in his ill-fated effort to put a big one over on the people of Pacifica.

Steve Sinai said...

Yep, same group. From the looks of their website, they've expanded.