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Derby Puts Infomercial Ordeal To Rest

by Eugene Driscoll | Nov 21, 2014 3:11 pm

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Posted to: Derby, Derby Tax Watch, Your Right To Know

FILE PHOTOThe city didn’t follow its own procedures before hiring a company to market Derby in an infomercial, and the result was embarrassing.

But the city righted itself by killing the contract, Alderman Art Gerckens said during an Aldermen meeting Thursday.

Gerckens, who represents the Second Ward, was talking about Derby’s contract with “Communities of Distinction,” a Florida-based infomercial company.

In September, the Board of Aldermen approved a $19,800 contract for a 5-minute promotional video that was to be shown within a 1-hour infomercial, allegedly to be aired on various cable networks, such as the Fox Business Network.

The video, which featured interviews with various officials and local organizations talking nice about Derby, was filmed in October. Derby paid half the bill up front.

The contract approved by the city stated Terry Bradshaw, the retired Pittsburgh Steeler, was hosting the infomercial.

That was not true, because Bradshaw’s people reached out to local media and said the retired NFL quarterback’s connection to the company ended last May.

Bradshaw’s company sent a cease and desist letter to “Communities of Distinction,” ordering the company to stop using Bradshaw’s name and image in marketing materials.

After the Valley Indy and the New Haven Register published stories on Bradshaw’s lack of involvement, Mayor Anita Dugatto issued a press release saying the contract had been terminated and the city had received a $9,900 refund.

In addition, the Valley Indy previously reported on the spotty history of companies run by Douglas Scott, the “Communities of Distinction” honcho.

In 2007, Scott’s previous companies agreed to pay (without admitting wrongdoing) $175,000 to its former clients and the State of Florida after the attorney general accused the company of violating Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Sportscaster Greg Gumbel sued Scott in 2007, claiming he was duped into appearing in one of Scott’s infomercials. They settled out of court in 2010.

The Derby Board of Aldermen often sends contracts and various discussion items to an array of subcommittees before they are voted on by the full board.

Gerckens noted those procedures were not followed with the “Communities of Distinction” contract.

“I don’t like looking bad, and I think this was egg on our face. I hope we learn something from this. I know I did. It was embarrassing,” Gerckens said.

Dugatto noted the contract stated Bradshaw was the host, but Gerckens noted Bradshaw’s lack of involvement wasn’t the only problem.

“Yeah, but the whole thing about them being in trouble before, having other issues . . . it took people five minutes to find that out,” Gerckens said. “How did that get to our table without that? That was a flaw. Something went terribly wrong there.”

Click play on the audio clip below to listen to the discussion.

When the contract was approved in September, Dugatto said the city was applying for grant money to offset the $19,800 cost. However, Dugatto used taxpayer money from the city’s economic development office to fund the infomercial.

The company sent Derby a communication saying they will still edit the video and send it to Derby as a “gift” to be used for marketing the city.

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