Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Controversy Over Partisan City Manager Piece On City Web Site

Occasionally you will hear me reference "email chatter". What happens is that various people appear on email distribution lists--some who are concerned about issues, some who like to hear themselves speak, and some who are elected and feel they need to provide inside information. Many issues of the day are debated over email chatter. Typically these emails are only good for clogging in-boxes and making people think that I'm important because my blackberry goes off all the time. But, at their best, these email exchanges actually produce enough annoyance to prompt action by a government official.

The other day, somebody involved in this email ring noticed a piece on the city Web Site by Alderwoman Finlayson defending the strong-mayor philosophy and condemning the city manager philosophy. "Facts" from supporters of the city manager were allegedly misrepresented, and the supporters (who are organized and have financial resources) were pissed. The city Web Site, they argued, should be for facts, and a response to this political trick was needed.

The next 20 emails or so were a combination of "this is only the beginning from this bunch" and "here's what you should do about the problem". Some pointed out that Finlayson was lying. Others said a pro-city-manager piece should be put on the web site. Others excused themselves, opting to pour and consume a Canadian Whisky with ice.

Yesterday's emails started out decrying the lack of democracy. Some pointed out the city web site is not supposed to be a giant press release. Others suggested the matter should go to the attorney general for ruling. I poured another glass of whisky.

I then missed some of the propaganda, because I was bidding for an item on Ebay, which I lost. Minor disappointment. When I returned to neglecting work and following emails, Alderman Arnett had agreed to post an opposition piece on the city web site. Unbelievably, somebody found a web site policy from De Pere, Wisconsin, and Alderman Cordle promised to introduce legislation proposing the city adopt the "De Pere model"! I immediately predicted an increase in worldwide whisky demand.

Greg Stiverson ascertained that the post on the web site was in violation of the following city web site policy:

The city maintains the website as a vehicle to communicate information to
citizens and visitors. The website is not maintained as a public forum for
debate of public policy issues.

So, now the piece has been moved off the city web site and onto the city Let's Talk "blog". Alderman Cordle still plans to draft legislation. Aren't you glad you read this post?

Here is the Let's Talk blog post and Finlayson's dubious presentation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They did this earlier when they claimed the 20 year old Duden Report was the Holy Gospel on the subject. Don't expect fairness from City Hall. The only rules they follow are the ones they make up. Exactly why we need a Council-Manager government, not dictatorship.