By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections is defending the use of 15-thousand taxpayer dollars to run online ads designed to look like news articles — ads that put a positive spin on the beleaguered department.
L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams says the news media in Philadelphia aren’t telling the full story of his department:
“I feel to some degree that part of the story of L&I is not being told,” he says. “And I think it’s only important that we do it.”
So L&I spent $15,000 on three so-called ‘advertorials’ on philly.com, featuring essays that promote changes at the department in two years since the Market Street building collapse. Williams says the price tag was worth it.
“This is our way to educate the public about the changes that we’re taking at L&I,” he says. “If we can’t get that out through traditional media outlets, then its only up to us, and its important, that we actually make the investment, so the public understands the true story and the changes of L&I.”
The three advertorials — first reported on phillymag.com — covered such matters as increased training at L&I, its new land management system, efforts to find delinquent property tax owners and improved demolition practices.
When asked if he plans further such promotions on the taxpayers’ dime, Williams said, “If necessary.”
L&I has been the subject of long-running and wide-ranging criticism in the wake of the 2013 building collapse, that killed six.