I'd go with one of the "framework" providers and then consider hiring one of the many who have chosen to support that framework. The "specialists" tends to hang around or be "annointed by" the framework's support forum's operators.
OTOH, with popular frameworks there tends to be an abundance of tutorials, "been there, done that" articles, etc.
I've played with both Genesis and Thesis and only twice have I sought paid assistance when I wanted/needed a quick fix/solution.
I've played with both also, have a couple of sites on each one. For me as a non-PHP guy it turned out to be surprising easy as long as I did my reading. Nothing too fancy; they look good and function well without all the widget, gadget, sprocket and other doodad overhead I didn't want. Best feature is that the frameworks make maintenance and updates a breeze.
WordPress's code is about as synchronized as drunks on ice...in space, on New Year's eve...during a soccer riot. I had a client who wanted a plugin to work with a theme, two copies of jQuery (as if WordPress wasn't bad enough) and I ended up billing them for only fixing a contact form and vowed never again to mess with WordPress.
After learning how relational databases worked I was able to throw together my own blog software and eventually really reduced the number of database queries executed. I've had absolutely no problems besides the early glitches that I eventually ironed out during early alphas and I now enjoy the fact that I use my blog instead of fight it like when I had WordPress.
If you're experienced enough with a scripting language and relational databases a basic blog is actually very easy to build. I think the only tricky part might be adding BBCode support however since I write everything as actual XHTML that too was not overly difficult (though I did have to refine it a bit over time). The PHP and XHTML combined are about 60KB between two files though there are a couple includes (besides the headers).
If you write your own software then you know when you need to add, change or fix something where and how you'll approach it. I'm not joking when I say WordPress has a function to do an includes (I think it's a very basic template related includes if I'm not mistaken). I can't emphasize how much money, time and sanity you can save by writing your own blog software. I'd peg it at a week for a capable programmer to setup the database tables (blog-categories, blog-comments, blog-comments_drafts, blog-tags and blog-threads as examples) and maybe even get the BBCode validator implemented and everything working as desired.
I'm setting up a blog now as a sub domain (my first outside of blogger.com) for my new website, I'm using wordpress because of its ability to tell Google about new posts and the top ranking blogs in my field are written in wordpress and use a paid for seo plugin.
My developer wants to stay away from wordpress for the reasons you all have mentioned, if it wasn't for my research I would agree.
My question is am I giving myself problems in the long run?
Bob, what does WordPress do to inform Google about new posts? I've noticed with my spider log that Google is more than capable of seeing when a new blog entry is posted on my site. In fact I have a small inset on my sidebar across my entire site with the latest blog entries so there's no way Google could not see the entries. Google also likes RSS feeds and I have to admit I absolutely loved working on the RSS feed in conjunction with my blog and that's another thing Google pays attention to.
How many people have to hack WordPress and how often? Now when you have to update WordPress (or get hax0r3d) you'll have to constantly apply hacks to patch it. The ultimate problem with WordPress is that it promises to tailor itself to your needs though the moment you move to take advantage of that promise the complications of it's spaghetti code quickly start to suck up time. Take a week of time and throw together your own blog software and update it as you need because what WordPress updates is going to be features you probably don't need, introduce more holes, overwrite your hacks and break more features whereas with your own blog software you'll only mess with something when you need to add or fix a feature.
I think one of the biggest advantages to writing your own software is site-wide integration. My blog, forums, threaded private messaging, etc all work gracefully together, can you say that about say vBulletin and WordPress? Not to say that the people working on those modules aren't capable though they certainly take an excessive amount of work to continually maintain the level of customizability most of us or our clients are going to need.