New Communications Director to "Strengthen Dade's Brand"

Critics of the Dade County government who complain that it communicates poorly with its citizens will (possibly) be pleased, while critics of the Dade County government who complain it is overstaffed will (almost certainly) be less so, at this week's news: that the county has addressed the communication problem by hiring a full-time communication director.

It will not have escaped local government junkies that the county suddenly not only has a Facebook page but one eat up with upbeat posts--Dade County receives wellness grant from ACCG; Congratulations to Dade Elementary School and Dade Middle School for their great health inspection scores!--nor that the county website has similarly sprouted a bumper crop of similarly helpful information. Chalk that up to the efforts of Dade's newest employee, Brian Wooten.

(Photo of Brian Wooten courtesy of Brian Wooten.)

Other than his unattributed contributions to the county website and FB page, Brian Wooten's first public act as communication director was to issue a Thursday night press release on: Brian Wooten.

"I love Dade County!" writes Wooten in his release. "It's exciting to me to be able to serve my community. Dade County has so many great things to offer. And like any relationship, especially that of a government and it's [sic] citizens, communication is key to it's [sic] success!"

Wooten introduces himself as "the son of recently retired Dade County business owner, Geneva Wooten, who owned Geneva's Restaurant--a staple in our community--for 38 years." Besides providing reliable information, he lists as the goals of his new job to "demonstrate the value of County services," "continue to build trust in local government," and "strengthen Dade County's brand and image."

Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley, asked about the new position Friday morning, said Wooten will be more of a website manager than a public relations director, and that residents who wish to speak to the county boss directly will still be allowed to do so. But huge amounts of information about the county that the county wants to, or is required to, post online is not online yet, and it will be Wooten's job to get it there. "We'd been looking for someone for months," said Rumley.

Questioned further, though, Rumley admitted that no other applicants were solicited nor other individuals considered for the new position. Wooten had been working with the county on its website before, he said, as well as with the county's emergency services director, Alex Case, and came by the job that way. Case as mayor of Trenton had hired Wooten in May 2016 to design a website for the city, and in November of 2017 told an inquiring Planet the plan was to get Wooten to show the city commission how to use it at some point.

As for whether the county, which is operating under a deficit budget this year, can afford another full-time employee, Rumley said the position had been budgeted for not just this year but last year.

Benefits for a full-time county employee have been quoted in various public meetings at $10- to $12,000 a year. As for the new position's salary, the county boss declined to say--"I'd have to pull it up"--and The Planet declined to pursue the point.

The Planet will faithfully report further developments in the county's campaign to strengthen its brand.

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