Oregon DEQ spends $50K on outside PR

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Officials with the Oregon DEQ said they hired an outside public relations firm to help them in the short term deal with the toxic air situation in Portland.

The DEQ paid $50,000 to ART Public Affairs in Portland for a short, one-month contract to help guide their public response to the toxic air levels near glass manufacturers.

The DEQ Air Monitoring system in the Roselawn neighborhood on North Emerson in Portland, Feb. 12, 2016 (KOIN)

Jennifer Flynt with the DEQ said they’ve been “down 2 public affairs specialists covering other regions,” and the contract with the outside PR firm has been helpful.

“We thought that this was the right way to go,” she said. Flynt added the DEQ has had trouble relaying the information it collected from air monitoring stations and the outside PR help will ultimately help the public.

The DEQ has 5 public affairs officers listed on the state of Oregon website earning salaries totaling $337,000.

Bullseye Glass President Dan Schwoerer shows KOIN 6 News colorful glass made in his factory, Mar. 10, 2016 (KOIN)

Flynt said spending the $50,000 was a good use of taxpayer money.

“I think it’ll come back to: did we get some of the strategic direction we needed to move forward with our own communication capabilities,” she said.

“No matter how much science we have, no matter how many monitors we have out there to gather data and no matter how much data we get,” Flynt said, “if we can’t explain it, if we can’t communicate it to the public, what good is it?”

She added the DEQ has no plans to extend the contract past its March 31 end date. Their own PR teams will be ready to move forward.

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