Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and Coun. Art Puddister had a heated argument at Monday’s meeting over the city’s communication policy.
Puddister cited a Telegram editorial criticizing the city’s policy of requiring media to request interviews of city staff through the city’s communications department, rather than calling staff directly, a change implemented by the city two years ago.
“I don’t think they should have to go through this process of going to the manager of communications,” said Puddister.
“If they want to talk to (deputy city manager of public works) Mr. (Paul) Mackey or (director of finance) Mr. Bob Bishop or (deputy city manager of community services) Ms. Jill Brewer or anyone else, our people are well-trained, well-qualified, and I trust them to represent the city properly. They’re not going to do any damage to the city. If there’s information (the media) want, I as one member of council support them getting access to it at that level.”
O’Keefe said Puddister doesn’t understand the policy.
“City council cannot be more open and more transparent, councillor, than it presently is,” he said.
“The whole idea of the change was to make it more open and more transparent and easier for the media to access staff as well as councillors. And the media well knows that they can call me or you or anybody else on any issue and get you here at city hall, if you are here, at your home, or at your place of business. That is accessibility.”
Puddister tried to respond, O’Keefe declared him out of order, and the two began arguing.
Coun. Dave Lane likened the city’s policy to a switchboard.
“It’s intended to make sure that the correct facts are gotten to the correct person from the right person,” he said.
“I know that sometimes it might seem restrictive; I have to say that actually what it does is it makes things more efficient and more transparent and open.”