Archive for Thursday, February 17, 2011

City council adopts media policy

February 17, 2011

City employees must now refer all media requests for information or comment to supervisors with the Tonganoxie City Council’s approval Monday of a media policy.

Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez said the policy was developed at the request of council members, using one in place at the city of Topeka as a model. No specific incident prompted the request, he said.

“The council kind of felt we needed some policy so we could always present consistent positions related to inquires from the media,” he said.

The policy’s seven guidelines limit public statements or the release of information regarding municipal policy to the mayor, council members, city administrator or city attorney. Release of information regarding operations or an operational scene would be limited to department heads, incident commander and or a designated public information officer.

Furthermore, employees contacted by reporters must report contacts and the nature of inquires to their supervisors.

There are no consequences in the policy for employees violating its terms. City Attorney Mike Kelly said consequences would be left to the city’s employee handbook.

The policy also states are open records requests from the media must be submitted to City Hall, which will consider them based on state statute and city ordinances. Fees for photocopying, staff time, postage and other expenses will be applied.

In response to a question from Councilwoman Paula Crook, Yanez said all city employees would receive of the new policy and sign an acknowledgment they did so.

Those attending the council meeting learned of another new policy on entry Monday to the council room.

City Administrator said the move was made at the suggestion of Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau, who was particularly concerned about the potential for a disturbance during municipal court. Those dates get very crowded and have people attending upset about tickets or citations, he said.

The increase in security is also a nod to last month’s Tucson, Ariz., shootings and a December shooting at Florida school board meeting.

“We decided to extend to the council meeting,” Yanez said. “It’s another level of security for all in attendance.”

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