A spokesperson for Terry Bradshaw said Wednesday the legendary retired NFL quarterback is not connected to a company producing a nearly $20,000, taxpayer-funded infomercial for the City of Derby.
In fact, Bradshaw’s contract with the company ended May 31 — and the former Pittsburgh Steeler has sent a cease and desist letter ordering his image and name be removed from the company’s website and social media accounts.
“We want people to know that Terry is not connected to that company in any way. I hate to think that communities could be being duped like the City of Derby, thinking that Terry Bradshaw is involved,” said Connie Mason, Bradshaw’s executive assistant.
The Derby Board of Aldermen in September gave Mayor Anita Dugatto permission to sign an agreement with “Communities of Distinction,” an hour-long promotional video of which Derby is getting five minutes.
The agreement was dated Sept. 2 and lists Terry Bradshaw as host, and Bradshaw’s involvement was mentioned at two Aldermen meetings.
But Evans said Bradshaw broke ties with U.S. Media, the Florida-based infomercial company, in May.
“They are still promoting Terry as its host. Not only have they not taken his image down, it looks like they are still selling slots,” Mason said.
The “Communities of Distinction” agreement with Derby is posted at the bottom of this article. Derby has already paid about half the cost, according to the Derby mayor.
Barbara DeGennaro, the president of the Derby Board of Aldermen, said in an email Wednesday city officials may have to huddle with their attorney.
“Any remedy the City may have or may seek must be discussed with our corporation counsel,” she said.
Dugatto told the Valley Indy last week she had verified Bradshaw’s involvement with the infomercial. A Q &A with the mayor from last week is posted below.
The Valley Indy reported Oct. 27 that previous infomercial companies connected to Paul Scott — the president and founder of “Communities of Distinction” — ran afoul of the Florida Attorney General in 2007.
Authorities in Florida accused Scott’s companies of violating Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The companies — Platinum Television Group, Inc. and New Line Media Solutions, Inc. — created $20,000 “magazine style television shows” which were about 5 to 7 minutes long.
Salespeople for the company called themselves “creative directors” and falsely implied that the infomercials were sponsored by big corporations such as Microsoft and Home Depot, according to the Florida attorney general’s office.
Scott’s companies were ordered not to claim they are associated with major cable or broadcast television outlets.
The companies admitted no wrongdoing.
Scott was also sued in 2009 by broadcaster Greg Gumbel. The sportscaster claimed he was “duped” into appearing in infomercials. The lawsuit was settled in 2010.
Paul Brennan, a writer with IowaWatchdog.com, wrote a scathing column on the company in September, saying municipalities pay $19,800 for “five minutes of low-wattage basic cable glory.”
“Communities of Distinction” is a one-hour infomercial, of which Derby gets five minutes. The company behind it buys time on a variety of broadcast channels to air the program.
The Derby episode of “Communities of Distinction” will allegedly air once on one of the Discovery Channel networks, according to an agreement approved by the Board of Aldermen. It will air 19 times regionally, through a combination of area ABC and FOX television stations, or on the ION broadcast network.
Derby has already paid roughly half of the $19,800 bill.
Mayor Defended Production
Dugatto wasn’t immediately available Wednesday to talk about Bradshaw’s lack of involvement with the infomercial.
But she told the Valley Indy in an article published Oct. 28 that the infomercial would be a good marketing tool for the city.
The filming, which took place late last month, interviewed a number of people and leaders highlighting positive aspects of Derby.
The “shot list” for the one day of filming is listed below:
Paying For It
Dugatto said in September that the city would search for grant money to pay for the infomercial.
The Aldermen approved the agreement under the impression the city would search for grant money.
However, after filming on the program started and ended on Oct. 28, Dugatto said the bill would be paid using “left over” money from the city’s Economic and Community Development Office.
The agreement between the city and the company said half the money was to provided up front, the remainder later.
Bradshaw’s lack of involvement and the use of taxpayer money is worrisome, said Aldermen David Lenart.
“It’s embarrassing,” Lenart said. “I feel like we were misled by this company, and that we were misled by information coming from the mayor’s office. We were told this was going to be paid for through grants.”
No Tax Board Involvement
Ken Hughes, a former Republican Alderman, has criticized the mayor, a Democrat, saying the money for the infomercial should have been approved by the city’s Board of Apportionment and Taxation (the tax board), per the city charter.
That sentiment was echoed Wednesday by Judy Szewczyk, a Republican member of the tax board.
“They (the administration) didn’t tell us anything about it,” Szewczyk said. “We put money in during the budget season and it goes into accounts and departments. The rules say that you stick to those departments for the reasons it was put in. If you want to use (money) differently . . . then they come before the tax board and ask for a transfer and give the reasons.”
Szewczyk said the city should review how the infomercial was funded to make sure it jives with city policy.
Oct. 30 Q & A With Mayor Dugatto
On Thursday, Oct. 30, Dugatto held an “open door” session in Derby City Hall and invited the public to ask questions about “Communities of Distinction.”
Only two people attended — a reporter from the Valley Indy, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Alderman Art Gerckens, who stopped by at 6:15 p.m. and chatted with the mayor for a few minutes.
A condensed version of the Valley Indy interview with the mayor is posted below:
Valley Independent Sentinel: Has the city actually cut a check to this company yet?
Dugatto: A contract’s been approved and the agreement has been made and half the payment has been paid.
VIS: Did this have to go through BOAT (the Board of Apportionment and Taxation) or was it approved by BOAT? I know they had a meeting scheduled for Oct. 20.
AD: It would not have to be (approved by BOAT). It’s already in the budget.
VIS: They don’t have to approve using a salary line item for something else?
AD: It’s not in a salary line item.
VIS: What line item was it in?
AD: The community development department’s use.
VIS: Should this have gone out to bid? What are the rules about that?
AD: Services usually don’t go out to bid.
VIS: So you wouldn’t need a bid waiver from BOAT or the Board of Aldermen?
VIS: I thought it was (former economic development director) Sheila O’Malley’s old salary being used for this?
AD: When they did the budget, I asked for $50,000 in Sheila’s budget line item, they didn’t put it in there.
VIS: Just in terms of the mechanics, if you guys were applying for a grant to pay for this, why not apply for the grant and see if it comes in before committing to it? Was the city under the gun with time constraints or anything?
AD: We were just looking for a way to market the city.
VIS: Say you want to appoint an economic development director, could you appoint one?
AD: There’s still money in that community development pot.
VIS: In our story we did an unscientific poll in which (as of last week) 5 out of 81 people said they had heard of this company. In a day and age when you have DVRs when people fast-forward through commercials, is an infomercial as a marketing tool sensible?
AD: It’s a product that we will have, that we will own, that’s professionally done. The pictures are beautiful, we had interviews, it’s a product that we’ll be able to use in many other marketing venues.
VIS: Dovetailing into that, I assume this would go up on the city’s website at some point. When will that go live?
AD: I’m saying January. We’re working on it, it’ll (probably) be before that. But it’s all part of our curb appeal for future investors.
VIS: Obviously you have to pay some costs to run a website. Does the city have any plans to branch out to free services like Facebook and Twitter to reach residents and potential investors?
AD: I’ll just give you an example, I went to a meet and greet at the Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan of all future businesses. No one even mentioned this because they don’t go on Twitter and they don’t go on Facebook, really. And at the same time, to help our city be more business-friendly, we’re working on Planning and Zoning . . . trying to reorganize the zone (of the downtown redevelopment area).
VIS: Did you hear anything from other communities regarding this company? Ever since we ran our story we’ve gotten calls from other officials saying that they were solicited by this company but told them to take a hike.
AD: (Office of Economic and Community Development Program Specialist) Patti Finn tracked down several of the recent users of “Communities of Distinction” with raving reviews. I know that there were some issues of 2007. They seem to have been resolved. The show is still in progress.
VIS: Is Terry Bradshaw involved?
AD: We verified that he’s still doing the show. We’re looking forward to the wonderful, professionally produced video.
VIS: How long will it take?
AD: About three months. And we have to give final approval.
This is the agreement that was reviewed by elected officials in September: