I-Team: Tax dollars spent on special media training

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio -- The FOX 8 I-Team has found Cuyahoga County spending some of your tax money on an outside firm to help top level government executives deal with reporters.

Yet, the county rarely allows its top managers to speak on camera, and the county has its own communications staff of 7 with a head of the department making $140,000 a year.

The county entered into an agreement with Dix and Eaton for media training. Records show the County spent $8000 on training for the “leadership team.” And, $6000 for on-camera training.

Oddly, special training for top execs at Cuyahoga County Headquarters on how to deal with the media. Yet ,very often, when the I TEAM has been working on stories, we`ve asked to talk to county leaders and managers, and very often, the answer has been, ‘no’.

In fact, we asked the county repeatedly to talk to someone on camera about this and that never happened. We never even got an e-mailed statement about the training, or why no one would explain the need for it.

We also went to Dix and Eaton. A manager we met there didn’t know anything about the training. But a short time later, the firm e-mailed a statement saying :

“…that within the past year we conducted media training sessions for several members of the County staff. The training was not related to any specific topic but was instead a communications skill building exercise for those staff members.”

Cuyahoga County headquarters is facing a corruption investigation, but we found the media training had been planned before that came to light.

The I-Team is exposing this at a time when property owners are expecting taxes to go up, and the county is struggling to pay the bills.

Taxpayers reacted to our findings.

Dave Dilley said, "I think it's a skill they ought to have, but they ought to be able to teach it internally, especially if they have a communications staff."

The county also did not address a question we forwarded wondering if any more of this training is planned.

Continuing coverage here.

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