In a 4-0 vote (Council Member Roy Lee abstaining), the City Council voted to extend a contract with Two Trumpets Communications for another year. In 2018, after recent natural disasters, the City of Carpinteria wanted to update their methods for contacting and communicating with the public and hired Two Trumpet Communications, run by Lea Boyd and Peter Dugré, in order to enhance the city’s website, email newsletter and social media presence.
At the end of the first year of their contract during the May 28 city council meeting, Boyd presented the status and accomplishments during the last year and received praise from the council for the hard work and success during the year. At the June 24 meeting, most in attendance continued to recognize Boyd’s and Dugré’s accomplishments, but some members of the public questioned the potential for a conflict of interest between Two Trumpets’ work for the City of Carpinteria and their work with the CARP Growers (Cannabis Association for Responsible Producers).
The cannabis industry and its regulations have been controversial topics for the council this year, bringing out many members of the public on both sides of the issue. Two Trumpets has many clients, one of which is CARP Growers, and members of the public such as Mike Wondolowski from the Carpinteria Valley Association, voiced concerns over a potential conflict of interest in providing PR for both the city and the growers. However, other members of the public voiced their support for the team, noting that by nature of their work, they are not decisionmakers and their primary focus is on communicating information to the public.
Avocado farm manager Carl Stucky said that while he is supportive of Concerned Carpinterians and some of the issues the group has brought to light, he “strongly disagrees with their position on Two Trumpets Communications…they [Two Trumpets] don’t direct policy, nor do they make policy…They do a really great job.”
Vice Mayor Clark asked the city’s legal staff to provide information about their investigation into a conflict of interest, and legal staff reiterated that after a thorough investigation they found no evidence of any conflict of interest and stated that in the future if there were to be a conflict, they have a protocol in place. Council Member Lee responded to the legal staff’s assessment of no conflict of interest by commenting, “I see a perceptual conflict,” which ultimately caused him to abstain from the vote. Before the vote, Mayor Nomura also referenced a perceived conflict of interest noting, “it is imperative that we eliminate the perceptions of a conflict.”
With the vote approved, Two Trumpets Communications will continue their work bringing Carpinteria into the digital age and keeping the city informed for another year.