Letter: Bianchi's transparent gag order
This letter was updated on July 11, 2014 to correct the author's hometown.
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In his letter defending his press policy (July 7), Mayor Daniel Bianchi conveniently ignores two important facts. First, he never meant for this policy to be made public. When he first issued it (June 24), he did so in a memo to department heads on hard copies that were hand-delivered. He wanted no electronic copy to exist, to prevent use of the "Forward" button.
Second, because the policy was meant to be strictly internal, the intention wasn't to "be efficient and responsive," as the mayor claims. Rather, it was to serve as a gag order on department heads, who were instructed to refer all press inquiries into the mayor's office. There, the mayor would decide who could respond and what to say, a lame attempt to block "negative" news in favor of the positive spin.
After I obtained a copy of the policy and made it public, only then did the mayor acknowledge its existence. Prior to making it public, his office denied such a policy existed. When I called the mayor's office and began reading from the policy, Julia Sabourin, his assistant, became flustered. Everything the mayor has said or written about the policy since then has been an attempt to cover his tracks.
The last topic this mayor should ever address is "transparency."
The writer is an investigative blogger (www.planetvalenti.com) and TV host.
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