City Councilman Jim Kenney is playing defense this week after Philly.com revealed that the 53-year-old is using taxpayer dollars to make up for his social media ineptitude. His help is coming from a local firm called ChatterBlast, a self-described “online strategy and social media marketing company,” to the tune of $28,000 a year.
Many locals are up in arms after learning of the Councilman’s use of taxpayer money. But the Councilman and his PR man, Martin O’Rourke, have justified the price tag because, well, they have no idea how to use Twitter.
ChatterBlast reportedly tweets for Kenney several times a day, providing consultant advice to the Councilman about what to put on his social media accounts.
Co-founder of ChatterBlast, Matthew Ray, told an It’s Our Money writer, “Having the councilman connect with people via social media is as important as having people read the Twitter feed for Target or Kim Kardashian. I think everyone knows $28,000 isn’t a huge amount.”
While those Twitter feeds for Target or Kim K may be important to some, there’s one crucial difference: they aren’t funded by taxpayers. (Also, $28,000 is a substantial amount of money for many Philadelphians.)
Still, Kenney is defending his contract with ChatterBlast. He told Technically Philly, “I looked at my staff’s skills and responsibilities, my operating budget, and the demands on my office and determined it would be best to partner with an outside expert firm for social media communications.”
According to CBSPhilly, Councilman Kenney hopes to continue his contract with ChatterBlast in the next fiscal year, but it will have to be approved by City Council president Darrell Clarke first. Kenney is supposedly the only council member who pas an outside contractor for this kind of help.
Jane Roh, spokeswoman for Council President Darrell Clarke, said, “As a longtime advocate for the city’s taxpayers, Council President Clarke intends to carefully review all vendor requests from members of City Council.”