Tyrannical City Hall Communication Policy Restricts Flow of Information to Journalists

From a read of the new media-relations policy city council approved on Sept. 11, it appears the days a journalist could pick up a phone and dial a contact in city hall have come to an end.
All requests for interviews now are to go through Tessa Vecchio, corporate communications officer.
“The purpose of this policy is to create a process for the City to take requests for interviews with our staff,” Vecchio said in a recent release to media organizations. “The centralization of this service to our corporate communications department is meant to assist reporters in getting the information and the interviews they need in a timely fashion.”
I have to ask. How does is it make it timely for a journalist to have to go through a middle person to get to the one with the information he or she requires?
It would appear someone has a warped sense of humour to come up with this idea.
Previously the purpose of the media relations policy said it was “to establish guidelines to facilitate communications with the news media that is coordinated and consistent, as well as open and responsive.”
The new policy says:
“A strategic approach to media relations is required to build an equally beneficial and trusting relationship with news media in order to foster accurate and fair reporting; increase positive news coverage; and protect and enhance the City’s reputation and integrity. This policy provides general principles and guidelines to facilitate the release of information and interaction with the media regarding the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s policies, programs and services.”
Actually, other than accepting that the opening line is self-serving for the city, “foster accurate and fair reporting, increase positive news coverage and enhance the city’s reputation and integrity,” I see nothing out of line.
Where I get concerned is further down in the document, where it says:
“The corporate communications officer or city clerk is the designated management contact for media activity whether initiated by the city or by media outlets. The centralization of this role ensures consistency and responsiveness.
“Any employee who receives media calls or requests for information should refer them to the corporate communications officer or city clerk for processing.
“The communications officer, city clerk or designate is the official spokesperson for the city. This role involves both direct media responses and the coordination of media responses in which the CAO, executive management and / or senior management employees are interviewed or featured. Such involvement is dependent on a variety of factors including the sensitivity of the news item, news value of the item and the availability / sustainability of official spokespersons for interview.
“The corporate communications officer or city clerk must determine when responses are appropriate from others in the organization and facilitate such responses.”
Aside from the fact I don’t like it that journalists must now go through another level of bureaucracy to reach a contact, I also disagree that the corporate communications officer or city clerk gets to determine when responses from others in the organization are appropriate.
If a journalist wants information from someone in city hall, it should be automatic that it be made available. The very fact that the request for information is being made should be the deciding factor as to whether a response is appropriate, not the corporate communications officer or city clerk.
As I write this I find myself wondering why I am even concerned, considering I am only partially in the news and opinion business these days. I guess I just find it irritating when any organization attempts to put any blocks in front or our local news organizations.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may not be wise to have his government impose a tax on discounts employees are afforded because of their employment, considering it could appear as if it is a tax on those at the lower end of the pay spectrum.
But that is not to say it isn’t within his right to do so.
After all, it is a perk.
CTV reported recently that the latest version of the Canada Revenue Agency’s tax folio advises employers that “when an employee receives a discount on merchandise because of their employment, the value of the discount is generally included in the employee’s income,” with the value of the discount assessed at “equal to the fair market value of the merchandise purchased, less the amount paid by the employee,” unless  the discount is “available to the public or a segment of the public, at some point during the year.”
Before the change, which some expect to come into effect Jan. 1, employers were advised to tax employee discounts only if the employee was purchasing the merchandise below the employer’s cost.
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre issued a statement Monday saying the change means the government plans to tax things like a 10 per cent shoe discount offered to shoe salesmen, a meal discount offered to a waitress or a free gym membership given to a fitness trainer.
CTV quoted Poilievre as saying not only would the change “target those who can least afford to pay more,” but it means local business owners will have the headache of needing to “track all of these discounts.”
Actually, it appears to me that rather than targetting those who can least afford to pay more, it is targetting everyone who gets an employee discount, from the shoe salesperson or restaurant worker to those working at car dealerships or jewelry stores.
When I was editor of The Sault Star I had a leased car courtesy of the paper. However, it was considered a taxable benefit so I paid tax.
The only difference I see in the tax that is to be imposed is in the amount. At the low end it could be considered chintzy.
So I would suggest there should be an amount set at which the tax would kick in.
This would also make it simpler for operators of businesses such as those in the restaurant industry, who should not be expected to have to record all discounts accorded employees for food purchased in the restaurant.
Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier said in a written statement that the CRA’s goal is “to ensure that the agency does not impose additional administrative burdens on businesses.”
Well, then, give us some details as to how it is going to ensure that this does not happen.
President Donald Trump has been touting his IQ for a long time, claiming during the primary that it was higher than that of all his opponents and lately that it is higher than that of his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who reportedly has referred to Trump an f…ing moron.
Considering the president’s claim, I can’t understand the U.S. media not turning over every stone to find out what the exact number is so it can provide U.S. citizens with the information.
To do otherwise is the give the president a free ride on this.
However, I guess that is to be expected. They continue to give him a free ride on having his clothing line made outside the U.S.
Every time Trump talks about bringing companies back to America to manufacture their goods, he should be asked when he is going to have his goods manufactured there.
Just as he should be asked what his IQ is every time he mentions how high it is.


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