Kilpatrick on parade 

His picture is the only one on the front cover. His signature is on the first page next to the index, where his name is listed five times in the titles of articles.

On the 28 pages that are stapled between the covers, his photograph appears 23 times and his name more than 80. He's pictured speaking earnestly from a podium, smiling sincerely with his wife and children, mugging with community members, shaking hands with volunteers and promoting American Red Cross blood donations.

Are all those appearances by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the city's 2006 Annual Report to the Community excessive? Spokesman Matt Allen doesn't think so.

"If I could have put the mayor in there more, I would have. If I could have mentioned him more times I would have," he says. "Why not?"

First given to the audience at the mayor's state of the city address, some 10,000 copies of the booklet have been printed, says Allen. The publication was produced by the city's photographer, Allen and McCarthy Media, the east side public relations business owned by Shannon McCarthy, a former director of the city's communications and creative services department.

About 6,600 of the reports are mailed, at a cost of $3,561 — which was not paid for by the city, Allen says. Printing costs — which are paid by you, the taxpayer — totaled $12,925. Envelopes added another $1,584 to the city's bill for the project, Allen says.

We asked who it was that so generously paid for the mailing, and exactly how much McCarthy was paid, but Allen told us that info wasn't immediately available.

As for the content, Allen says that's determined by the mayor's office: "It's his administration. He does this every year."

Allen also had a few questions for News Hits, one of which was, basically: What's your problem?

Well, we could fill a book with answers to that one. But in this particular case here's what gets us: a public servant using public money to shamelessly promote himself. If you want to self-aggrandize, do it on your own dime.

But then, in a rare moment of introspection prompted by Allen's queries, News Hits began thinking we might be wrong about this. So we looked up some guidelines that appeared in a Public Relations Society of America tip sheet on annual report writing. Here's one about repetition:

"Comprehension of the report (and thus satisfaction with it) is enhanced when key themes are emphasized throughout the report. ... At the same time, too much overt repetition can sometimes bother those readers who closely review the report."

So, consider us bothered.

And here's another from the section titled "Reports Reflect Top Management": "The tone of the entire report, not just the chairman's letter, is thought to reveal much about the attitude and mindset of the company's leaders."

And the message we got?

It's all about the mayor.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]

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