LOS ANGELES: LA Mayor James Hahn is defending himself this week over charges that Fleishman-Hillard did work on his behalf while billing thousands of dollars to the Department of Water & Power (DWP).
The media speculation began when the LA city controller released detailed billing summaries from Fleishman used in her recent audit of the agency's multimillion-dollar contract with the DWP. The statements, posted online at www.lacity.org/ctr, show numerous instances of Fleishman employees creating press releases and programs for the mayor and meeting with his staff on multiple projects.
For example, billings for January 2003 included a meeting between then-Fleishman GM Doug Dowie and the mayor's communications staff to discuss "2003 Mayor/LADWP media," and March 2003 billings included a press conference with the mayor on fuel cells.
In all, the Los Angeles Times reported that billings related to Hahn for 2002 and 2003 totaled more than $400,000.
Yusuf Robb, Hahn's spokesman on the issue, declined to discuss specifics of Fleishman's work, saying only, "Mayor Hahn believed then and now in energy and water conservation, and he believes in outreach."
Fleishman regional president Richard Kline defended the mayor's involvement, saying: "The mayor can be the face of the city just like a CEO is the face of a corporation, and either one can enhance media coverage of an event. It can be beneficial in garnering media coverage and beneficial in drawing attention to the issues of the DWP."
Nonetheless, media have been quick to label it as an image problem for the mayor.