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The organization leading the public relations push that led to this New York Times piece on Mayor Jerry Sanders and his efforts to prime San Diego for development is in part funded by taxpayer money.

The city of San Diego has an estimated $600,000 fee-for-services contract with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. for marketing and public relations, EDC Marketing Manager Megan Carleton told me this morning. The fruits of those labors were especially evident yesterday when The New York Times ran a piece crediting the mayor with restoring the city’s financial health and encouraging development, although the story provided few concrete examples of the mayor’s role in either. On the same day, EnergyCurrent featured the city’s cleantech efforts.

EDC marketing staff took credit for engineering the stories in a mass e-mail and the mayor also sent an e-mail blast out to the media and interested residents trumpeting the story.

The city’s annual payments to EDC have long been a bone of contention for critics. However, they are especially sensitive now as a sizable budget deficit has led the city to consider closing entire branch libraries and led it to stop picking up trash at certain ocean-front locations. The city, for example, cut supervision at skate parks recently to save $282,571.

Carleton told me this morning that EDC works with conjunction with the city on its marketing push and it has an estimated $600,000 fee-for-services contract with the city. (She said she will provide me with specific numbers and the contract today.)

Carleton said The New York Times story wasn’t necessarily tied to the contract with the city, saying that it was related to efforts EDC undertakes with Development Counsellors International. The Denver firm, she said, is the only one that specializes specifically in marketing cities.

The work EDC does on behalf of the city is sometimes tied directly to the mayor’s efforts and sometimes tied to the city itself, Carleton said. The mayor has also recently been spoken on CNN and Fox News, but Carleton said that’s unrelated to EDC’s efforts. The fact that all of these media efforts come at similar times is a coincidence, she said.

I’ll have more on this later. I’m still waiting on some information from the Mayor’s Office and EDC.

In the meantime, there’s been an interesting discussion going on beneath my last post on this topic. Join in.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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