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More Branding is the Answer

Tough economy? More branding. Boom Times? More branding! It is the snake oil of easy government and leadership. It is alluring self delusion reinforced by slick glossy ads, sexy commercials, media appearances and cronies getting the business.

Yes we have some serious issues here in Tampa Bay that could require strong wise leadership, painful decisions and hard work. We do not have a reserve of strong, wise hard working visionary leaders. Instead we have to settle for a small pool of badly educated, lazy, back slapping good old boys.

None of the good old boys want the work and responsibility of leadership; they only want the recognition that comes with leadership. The good old boys grasp the mantle of leadership because they feel it is their due. They are in front only to make sure they get their recognition and to assure their family and friends continue to get a piece of the public treasury. The good old boys fight to be first to suckle at the teat of government funding. It takes money to do branding so the payola gushes and the good old boys get all their little hearts desire.

Branding then is government spending to family and friends to have them deny the challenges our leaders face even exist. This is how it works, Tampa Bay has 12% unemployment so we hire my sister’s PR firm to brand Tampa as a great place to work and do business. We tell the citizens we are acting to better the unemployment issue with this branding campaign, maybe we even call it “economic development”. My sister gets a nice chunk of public money, she and I get wined and dined by the media agencies to influence the national advertising campaign buys, and maybe we take some kickbacks to give out the business.

Now this would be very easily seen were it all under the Sunshine Law so we instead give the money to an independent nonprofit entity like a Chamber or Conventions and Visitors Bureau to spend outside of the government rules and transparency. Maybe my sister’s boyfriend or my college buddy can run the nonprofit for a $200,000 annual salary. He might be willing to steer some of that salary back my way as well.

The best part is as a lazy corrupt leader I can go and tell the people we are spending a ton of their money (out of their sight with my cronies) to make it look like I am doing something.

Then in good time we ask for more money as we created the good times that come eventually. Now isn’t all this easier the doing real work to deal with the challenges of governing and economic development?