H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Sep 3, 2013 10:01 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

ShareSLO Ambassador is no longer: Now a legal issue?

Six months after the ShareSLO Social Media Ambassador began his job, he lost his job.

Sources close to the story told KSBY that Bentley Murdock was fired on Friday. But according to his employer, Rosetta Marketing Group, the position was simply eliminated.

For now, a ShareSLO Street Team is promoting San Luis Obispo via social media posting and attending events. The team is made up of 12 people, some of whom competed for the Ambassador position, but in total more than 100 people participate at any given time. The team is not paid, it's all volunteer work. So one can imagine the frustration some on that team might have when Bentley was getting paid to do a job they say they were doing.

"I can't speak for the entire Street Team, but I can speak for myself and if you Google 'Bentley Murdock ShareSLO,' the first thing isn't from posts, it's the article that says he won," said Adam Montiel, Q104.5 host of Up & Adam in the Morning.

Montiel competed for the Ambassador position and is now one of the volunteers on the street team.

"He was supposed to be the lead of this Street Team," explained Montiel.

But he and other team members said Murdock has not been attending events, so the street team has picked up the slack to become the face of the social media campaign.

"I wouldn't say that it got pushed forward faster. The Street Team was always envisioned to build and develop and grow and that is really the vehicle that will broadcast our message about how great SLO is," said Clint Pearce, TBID Board Chair (Tourism Business Improvement District).

KSBY reached out to Murdock regarding the elimination of his position. He told KSBY via a text message he would be at Hawthorne Elementary School at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. KSBY showed up, but Murdock was not here.

In a text message he wrote, "I am selecting students to receive the free brand new 27 pairs of shoes the campaign donated after I ran the SLO Marathon barefoot. Cover that if you are anxious to cover something about the campaign, I will be here at 11:30."

KSBY went into the office of Hawthorne Elementary. The pricipal explained to KSBY that an event like this would have to be scheduled in advance. Murdock called the school Tuesday morning and asked if he could stop by, but something like this just can't happen on a whim, explained the principal.

Street Team members said this was common.

"We just didn't see him. I don't know if it was his thing," said Montiel.

So who is responsible?

"He was chosen because the Mayor liked that he didn't drink. When you figure how much wine plays into everything we do here, that didn't even make sense. I asked him that on my show the next day. I asked him, how are you going to cover these wine events and breweries and all kinds of stuff that brings so much tourism dollars," said Montiel.

"Ultimately the ambassador is an employee of Rosetta and that interview process made a recommendation to Rosetta and Mayor Marx was a part of that," said Pearce.

Mayor Marx did not return KSBY's calls on Tuesday.

According to city representatives, the final decision to hire and fire Bentley was made by Rosetta.

On Friday, Rosetta commented during a phone interview with KSBY that the Street Team was successful, and Rosetta decided that it would no longer employ a dedicated ShareSLO Ambassador.

KSBY reached out to Rosetta again Tuesday by showing up at the company's SLO office and by making numerous phone calls.

As of news time the only comment was "because of the threat of legal ramifications we cannot make any more comments."

Bentley told KSBY via a text message that he is seeking legal representation.

The dollars for the marketing contract with Rosetta came from the Tourism Improvement District or TBID dollars, a tax collected by San Luis Obispo hotels and motels.

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