It's a PR Throwdown

Local lobbying firms are on the sidelines at the moment as Knox County considers a new ambulance contract worth $60 million over five years.

Knox County has announced that any company representatives contacting the county during the bid process will have its bid tossed. The county purchasing department will then make recommendations to County Commission.

But there will be a little over a month from the time the recommendations are made until the Commission awards the contract. Presumable, lobbying firms could then contact commissioners and try to influence commissioners to pick their clients.

But will County Commissioners have the chutzpa to award the contract to a company not recommended by its own purchasing department? There are a lot of factors involved in the bid, not just the cost, including response time and other considerations.

Rural Metro has had the ambulance contract since 1985 and over the years has had high-profile local execs like former City of Knoxville department head Susan Brown and the current Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. They have also had high-powered PR firm then, as now, Moxley Carmichael Communications. American Medical Response has Mike Cohen, who has had high-profile jobs with city, county government and the school board.

Corrected: Steve Buttrey does not represent Falck USA.