Mayor Nutter’s new communications czar met the local press for the first time today.  Both she and the mayor defended her hiring amid the city’s ongoing budget crisis.

bell desireenutter dunn Nutter Defends Salary of Administration PR Boss

KYW’s Mike Dunn reports that Desiree Peterkin Bell will carry the title “Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships,” a position that includes a $150,000-a-year salary.

Bell denied that the position is merely about shaping the mayor’s public image:

“It’s really about the entire city.  It’s really about informing residents about changes.”

And Nutter said that even amid the temporary closures of fire stations, a communications strategist is needed:

“There are some positions that are important and critical to the entire government.  And I think ultimately citizens do want to get information.  And that information has to be put together by someone.”

And Bell herself said a communications strategists  is appropriate in lean times:

“Cities are trying and having to find different ways to communicate, to inform (and) engage residents about resources, access, and changes that are taking place.  So it’s really about shaping the agenda of the entire administration to better engage residents.”

Nutter and Bell said she will be exploring a greater use of social media like Facebook to reach residents directly.

Bell most recently held a similar post with Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker.

(Photo by KYW’s Mike Dunn)

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