BISBEE — A reckoning came Wednesday at a special meeting of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors about the fierce public backlash on the release of the new county marketing logos, and the reaction to vehement emails, texts, phone calls and comments on social media from citizens led to the public scolding of one supervisor.
For a few weeks, the new logos chosen by the Cochise County Tourism and Economic Council (CCTEC) were showing up on county websites, notices, and emails taking the place of the familiar county icon Chief Cochise. There was no pushback then, and what followed after a public press release on July 8 was an unwelcome surprise.
In the press release announcing the new campaign and logos, county spokesperson Amanda Baillie stated: “The iconic county logo featuring Native American Chief Cochise, for whom the county is named, will not be changing and still remains the county seal. Residents will continue to see this historic logo used throughout the county.”
In spite of Baillie’s statement, citizens who saw the logo on county website pages believed Chief Cochise would be “hidden away” according to one comment on social media, and the situation ballooned into a county-wide tirade.
Community members across the county saw the change, rebuked the idea and made their displeasure known in hurtful and threatening comments and calls to Judd, fellow Supervisors Tom Borer and Ann English, County Administrator Ed Gilligan and Baillie.
The Herald/Review published a story on July 10 about the community reaction and also included Baillie’s statement, “People thought we were getting rid of Chief Cochise. That is not the case.” Also published were statements from the supervisors reinforcing the fact the county will not replace Chief Cochise.
Rather than taking those comment to heart, the fury of many residents remained undiminished and unrestrained.
Borer made clear during the special meeting no employee “has been fired or disciplined” as was stated on social media.
Rumors had swirled in recent days that Baillie resigned over the incident. However. a press release sent from the county Friday on an unrelated matter still listed her as the county public information officer.
Before the row, Gilligan turned in his resignation on June 23 to take a position as the state Supreme Court’s Division Director of Adult Probation Services and gave Aug. 28 as his last day.
Neither Baillie nor Gilligan returned requests for comment.
Borer said the supervisors offered great praise in his last performance review of his duties, which include the Strategic Plan a part of which as the rebranding of the county’s marketing, and remarked on his professionalism and integrity.
“The marketing strategy was never intended or discussed in any way to replace Chief Cochise on the county seal,” he said. “ ... The logos were designed strictly to be a marketing tool.”
Some people commented on social media the change was done behind the backs of the public.
“That is not true,” he added. “This has not been a secret backroom deal.”
Borer read a letter from Willcox resident Laurie Smallhouse who stated, “I personally feel public input would have stopped this immediately. All I wanted was transparency and honesty to my questions, and, of course, for Cochise to remain our government logo and seal.”
She also stated the CCTEC “can do whatever it takes to boost our tourism. Just don’t overreach into our history. Actually, the Explore Cochise County marketing program is good.”
All the supervisors have been aware of the ongoing work and all approved the logos when they were presented to them by Baillie individually.
Borer said, “This was a marketing strategy and it was never meant to replace Cochise. It was just for in-state and out of state advertising.”
English stated, “What happens far too often is the public will ask an individual board member questions and the board member acts likes they can make that decision and answer that question. You can only answer questions that the board has already answered.”
“One board member made a statements that caused a fury to happen, and how do you stop a whirlwind that gets started on social media? We always need to take the high road. It’s up to us to ask questions, not go to the public venue, because the public venue does not hire the county administrator or oversee the county administrator. This has been hurtful to us and more to the county administrator.”
She went on to say the way in which the public response was handled in regard to Gilligan “put a blight” on his administration and it was important to bring his reactions to light.
Though English nor Borer identified Judd as the instigator, Judd knew they were referring to her.
Judd replied, “I’ve never been accused of being a liar, or trying to start something on Facebook. I’ve never done that. There were a few things done this week that I was not happy about and were very hurtful to me.”
She denied being the one who initiated the firestorm, as she also dealt with her constituents who made ugly comments. She reached out to Baillie as the person who she believed would have the answers to her constituents’ questions.
Baillie emailed a list of frequently asked questions and Judd posted it on social media, she said.
“I did not say I would do anything. I never mentioned the county administrator or Ms. Baillie,” she continued. “I am hurt. I really do like Mr. Gilligan and Ms. Baillie. I never lost my integrity. I have apologized to Mr. Gilligan and he has accepted.”
Gilligan requested the meeting due to the allegations regarding his job performance and professionalism, and wanted it to be held in public.
He pointed out, too often, information on social media “creates a false narrative” and reaches a point where “it becomes a permanent, living story.”
“In the past week, theories have been pushed forward in social media that I and others engaged in corrupt activity and sent business to family members. There were also accusations of affairs with individuals in marketing companies,” he added.
Due to the flood of misinformation, he began receiving phone calls and emails from “concerned directors” asking if he had been placed on administrative leave or terminated, and would they still have the opportunity of working with him.
“For the first time in my career here, I opened up a newspaper article that I didn’t know was even in process. I had no idea until I started receiving calls about the comments in the paper,” he said.
He felt a valuable employee, Baillie, was being held accountable for what was a supervisorial direction to proceed with her duty of developing the new branding and logos and following through with it.
He said a newsletter he saw printed a letter from Judd complaining about the lack of forward motion on the project, the lack of progress reports and that the roll out “was a complete surprise. I was not happy with the logo. It did not represent my district. I was formulating a plea for back to the drawing board. Your outcry came at a perfect time.”
Gilligan said, “That’s why I was upset with the quotes in the paper. I was mortified by quotes people were giving me on social media, because I can honestly say that does not describe the experience I had with this project for more than three years.”
He knew of English’s “lukewarm response from a sincere place” to the logos, as she did not see how it would benefit the county.
He also said Judd sent him a request to delay the rollout of the logo because it would cost her the election.
Three year processThe rebranding project was part of the supervisors’ 2017 vision of the Strategic Plan, a guide to what they wanted to do during their terms, he explained. In November 2019, a request for rebranding proposals was sent out and eight bids returned.
The CCTEC approved the selection of the Davis Design Group of California in February and accepted the logos in June. But, Baillie’s job was more than just produce a new brand. She was to help get the Bisbee Douglas Airport development campaign off the ground, handle press releases for all the county departments, act as a tour guide and much more. Baillie has been an ambassador for Cochise County, Gilligan.
He also explained that marketing logos are “abstract” and normal.
Gilligan explained the county needed a new look to appeal to the younger tourists who seek adventure. Cochise County has plenty to offer when it comes to outdoor activities and draws people from across the country and the world. Visitors can also be drawn to the character of the county and settle in with a business or retire here.
When Gilligan asked how Judd would have liked to move the rebranding forward, she replied, “I would have liked to see the three logos. I had no idea how my colleagues felt about it. I would have liked to hear from them. Get some good public input. I think a meeting like that would have helped a lot.”
Judd read a letter from the Sulphur Springs Historical Society whose membership wanted to keep the Cochise seal, so his memory will continue to be a focus.
Judd said she just wanted to sit down and hear what the other supervisors thought about the logos and hear from the public. The timing was bad due to all the challenges of historic statues being removed and the push to eliminate historic names.
She told Gilligan, “I don’t think we’re at a bad place.”
Gilligan replied, “I think it is a bad place when people reach the point of outrage and people threaten and harass and call us corrupt over something that was transparent.”
Borer summed it up, “The shield of the supervisors were not there to protect Amanda. We didn’t stand up and deflect the abuse. Let’s be better and move forward out of this.”
FORT HUACHUCA — Major General Laura Potter, the top soldier at Fort Huachuca, is leaving for Washington D.C. for a new assignment, a spokeswoman confirmed Friday.
The general, who took the reins of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca in July 2019, served one year in that capacity before she was tapped to head back to the Pentagon.
In an email early Friday, Potter’s public affairs officer confirmed the move.
“She is moving back to D.C. next month, but her new assignment has not yet been decided/confirmed,” said Potter’s spokeswoman Meredith Mingledorff.
Potter, the married mother of two boys who became the commanding general of the installation a year ago, was preceded by Major General Robert Walters, Jr. who retired and moved to Leavenworth, Kansas.
Potter’s most recent assignments include Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence G2, U.S. Army Europe and the J2, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany. She is married to Ret. Lt. Col. Randy Potter.
The major general’s command recently has been marked by the onslaught of COVID-19. Every week without fail, Potter and other commanders have held Facebook Live town halls to inform the public what the post is doing and what she and her staff have been doing to keep soldiers and their families safe and as healthy as possible.
Her demeanor in the one-hour sessions — there have been 17 town halls thus far — has been that of a calming force who ensured the public, her commanders and the soldiers that everything would be fine amid the uncertainties brought on by the virus.
During the ceremony for the change of command last July, U.S. Army Lt. General Michael D. Lundy, Commanding General, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, told Potter, “There’s no one I trust more than Laura. It (Fort Huachuca) will be in phenomenal hands for the next two years.”
Potter’s successor will be Brig. Gen. Anthony R. Hale, whose most recent assignment was director of intelligence, J-2, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, according to a Department of Defense press release.