Communication policy cause for heated debate

Daniel MacEachern
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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.”

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Recent comments

  • Fair??
    April 01, 2014 - 11:05

    Whether you agree with Puddister or not, he has a right to talk. Doc's disagreement does not give him the right to shut Puddister up.

  • Virginia Waters
    April 01, 2014 - 09:05

    O’Keefe’s defence of City Hall’s new restrictions on media access puts him in good company. He joins the Steve Kent defenders of Dunderdale’s Bill 29 and Stephen Harper’s clamp down on scientists talking to media. O’Keefe’s logic defies logic. ‘We did it to improve openness, access and transparency’. Indeed you did Doc! That's right up there with ‘I’m from government and I’m here to help you’.

  • D
    April 01, 2014 - 08:38

    Try finding the email addresses of elected officials on the City Hall website. They are there but well hidden. If you write them don't expect a reply or even an acknowledgement. They must all be reading the Harper communications handbook.

  • Snowed In
    April 01, 2014 - 08:31

    Feel bad for the few overtired snow plow ops out there in this mess doing 1.5 shifts to make up for the horrendous layoffs. Hope there's no emergencies in this Russian Roulette type of cost savings.

  • Joe
    April 01, 2014 - 06:57

    Doc" What are you trying to Hide?"