Doings and Undoings in Dade

County Looks to Create Ad Talent Pool; Airport Suspends Review
ATLANTA–Almost 18 months after Dade County began a recruitment effort to create a pool of Florida agencies that would be prequalified to work with each branch of regional government, the process remains undecided.
“The review process will be complete by the end of this month,” said Rhonda Barnett, media relations manager at the county manager’s office. “Eight firms will be selected. The recommendations will go to the board of county commissioners for final approval, but that is not scheduled yet.”
Barnett, who called the review “dismayingly long,” said she did not know why the process had been so extended. Other officials were unavailable for comment.
When the initiative was announced in January 1999, the cumulative ad budget for all branches of the government was estimated at $1.5 million.
Beyond matters of streamlined convenience, the pool is intended to better serve the numerous cultures and peoples of the county with a variety of agencies.
Prerequisites call for at least one agency with female ownership and an African American-owned shop. Despite Miami’s large Latino population, there is no such provision for a Hispanic shop.
The current system remains a failure, said Aida Levitan, managing director at Miami’s Sanchez & Levitan, which wants to be one of the eight agencies.
“[The local government] is having a major problem with the Hispanic community,” Levitan said. “They don’t have a clue about how to communicate with [them] . . . [Latinos are] never on the county’s team because they never get the information about what the county does for them.”
Barnett said the county’s only recent mass communication efforts were May and June two-page supplements in the Miami Herald. Each concerned news items about Dade County government that “we didn’t feel were being properly covered by the media,” she said.
Another Dade County review, this one involving attracting Spanish travelers to the area through Miami International Airport, also has stymied would-be contenders.
Last year, three local finalists were named in the $300,000 pitch, which required the agency set up an office in Spain. Citing budget cuts, the airport suspended the review and left the account with the Spanish incumbent, Paramedia.
Airport representatives did not return calls by press time.