Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 Calendar: PD Pin-Up Edition

I just want the record to be clear: I thought of the Public Defender Calendar first. But my follow-through sucks sometimes.

The seed for a PD Calendar (and a PD public relations campaign) came to me, strangely, from the Archer Daniels Midland company. About 10 years ago, I heard a story called The Fix Is In on This American Life, an outrageous tale of price fixing and criminal corporate behavior. I didn’t think much about it again until I saw ads on public television featuring wholesome American images with a feel-good slogan, and then the “ADM” logo superimposed over all of it. I thought, Holy Shit, those are the guys that lied and cheated, etc.—Don’t NPR and public television talk to each other? But that ad series made me think about the power of public relations advertising: that the image can be more important than the facts.

After years of living with the misconceptions and bad press that public defenders have, I realized that if Public Defense were a corporation, the first thing it would do is launch a PR campaign. Which led to many, many ideas, but one of those ideas was The Men and Women of the County Defenders' Office Calendar.

Last year, a friend and I signed our attorneys up for the PDs calendar, and the plan was to have the calendars ready by this year for Holiday presents (imagine the prosecutors, judges and cops as they opened their gifts!)--but then a budget crises tore our office apart, dividing us against each other for the first time I can remember, and no one was making a calendar.

But Mr. Adachi—be still our public-defender hearts—produced a public defender calendar this year! We can’t decide if we are mad at him for preempting our idea (as if!), or if it makes us smarter that we sort of had the same idea that he had.

Mr. Adachi, the head of the San Francisco Public Defenders' Office, has been in a long battle with the city's commissioners (at least he is fighting, eh?), and this year produced his budget report in the form of a PD Calendar that not only contained the budget numbers, but showcased his lawyers as valiant fighters for the poor. Nice!

Even nicer than the calendars, is the image of Mr. Adachi as the leader of his public-defender troops. We would like to be considered for adoption, please.

Mr. Adachi has inspired us to finally format our own Public Defender Calendar for This Here County 2010. Order your copy now, before they're all gone:

Coming tomorrow:  How to Be a Public Defender Revolutionary, Part III (Crunch the Numbers!) (We here at PDR apologize for the delay in this important post--sometimes we have a lot of silliness we have to get out before we can get down to real work.)

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