West Hollywood

Deluged with a flood of news media requests since its swearing-in two months ago, the City Council has hired a public relations firm.

The Communication Works, a firm based in West Hollywood and specializing in gay concerns, has been awarded a $3,000 contract for two months, after which council members will decide if they want the service continued.

Mark Manning, the firm's public relations coordinator, said individual council members have received up to 35 calls a day from newspapers, magazines and television and radio stations.

"It gets especially bad after a major issue like Barney's comes up," Manning said, referring to a dispute between the council and the owner of Barney's Beanery, a West Hollywood restaurant accused of violating a new ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals.

Laurie Shane, another of the firm's representatives, said the agency would not only "disseminate city-related information and issues and coordinate extensive media demand on the mayor and council," but would also promote tourism and city-sponsored activities. The firm is also expected to promote West Hollywood's large gay community, a spokesman said.

Manning emphasized that the firm will represent the rest of the city's diverse population, including large segments of senior citizens and renters.

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