City changes media relations policy

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Published: April 13,2010

Tags: city government, media

WAVELAND — A new employee policy in Waveland prevents workers from talking to reporters unless the mayor or city attorney approve.

The Sea Coast Echo reports the addition to the employee handbook was approved this past week by the board of aldermen on a 3-1 vote. Alderwoman Lili Stahler said she will ask the board to reconsider when it next meets. Stahler voted against it.

The new policy states, in part, that no “employees, official, or commissioners,” are allowed to give any interviews, statements or press conferences with any media without prior approval from the mayor or city attorney.”

Mayor Tommy Longo said there has always been an “unwritten” rule about who can give statements to the media. He said the city is not trying to hide any information from the public.

“Most all cities have a policy like this,” Longo said. “Any press statement should go through the department heads.”

Waveland’s policy on employee statements came under fire last month, when the city suspended Recovery Coordinator Brent Anderson after he gave interviews about the reopening of the Garfield Ladner Pier.

The discussion of the policy came during a closed door meeting of the aldermen. City Attorney Gary Yarborough declined to comment on the executive session.

Longo said concerns over the new policy are not needed.

“We are just trying to make sure everyone is on the same page,” he said. “This policy is really nothing new,” Longo said. “It’s really not a big deal.”

Longo said department heads who currently give press releases such as the police and fire chief will continue to do so.

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