The Leader has obtained an Aug. 7 city directive from Interim Oakdale City Manager Stan Feathers to all city employees instructing them not to make city business statements to the media and advising them his office “…is responsible for the City’s media relations, with the exception of most public safety issues.”
The memo further instructs employees that they are not to comment on press inquiries and provides verbiage to be used during inquiries by the press denying having full information about an incident and instructions in obtaining information, including the name of the reporter and topic, to be given to Feathers or the employee’s designated department head.
The directive comes on the heels of some public works personnel speaking out about conditions and possible results of city privatization of their services.
On July 25 the Leader reported about the rift between Feathers and the employee’s union regarding comments made at city council meetings and to the press.
In the article Feathers said he would never infringe on anyone’s right to speak publicly.
“If they’re speaking as an official of the city, that speaking should be cleared with the city manager’s office,” Feathers said.
When contacted on Aug. 9, Feathers said the directive did not have anything to do with recent press.
“Historically, the city did not have a policy,” Feathers said. “My staff is to understand my expectations on media relations. I decided to create one.”
Mayor Pat Paul said she supports Feathers’ directive which allows only the city manager, the council, and department heads or designees to contact or make statements to the media.
Paul, however, contradicted Feathers regarding recent events having a play in the policy.
“When you start scaring citizens on Homeland Security issues, we have to get control,” Paul said.
On Aug. 1 the Leader published an article on possible security risks of the city’s water delivery and water treatment where city public works employees provided comment.
For the entire story on the city’s new media policy, look to the Aug. 15 edition of The Leader.