‘Sensational’ coverage promotes skepticism

Published 8:29 pm Saturday, September 20, 2014

Editor’s Note: The following column is excerpted from comments made by Chuckatuck Borough City Council member Mike Duman during a City Council meeting on Wednesday.

There has been quite a bit of publicity concerning the Joint City/School Task Force that is being organized in hopes of identifying savings and efficiencies that could be realized through the cooperation of both entities.

This task force would only be a recommending body with all, if any, implementation subject to the concurrence of the city and school system. It in no way would allocate funds or directly affect the education process.

Email newsletter signup

I envision the task force will not only welcome, but encourage, input from the public. In addition, it would be my desire that before any formal presentation to the City or School Board the recommendations would be made public and further comments solicited.

The Suffolk News-Herald and several others have taken issue with my initial desire to have the task force convene in closed session. I would like to thank Kermit Hobbs for his column titled “The Case for Closed Meetings,” which was published Sept. 14.

Mr. Hobbs’ statements reflect much of my thought process. It was never my intent to reduce transparency, only a desire to provide an atmosphere that would encourage more uninhibited, genuine discourse.

The determination by our city attorney that these meetings be held openly was made without any type of influence or coercion from any third party. Ms. Holland should be commended for erring on the side of caution and recommending public notice and open session.

I appreciate the important role the media has as a source of information; however, at times I question their priorities and motives. I find it perplexing that at least two major articles and two opinion columns were written concerning a potential freedom of information violation that never occurred and would have never occurred.

Yet only two brief articles were written concerning the city attaining a AAA bond rating that was the culmination of approximately eight years of sound management and fiscal responsibility resulting in millions of dollars of savings for our taxpayers.

At times there seems to be a propensity to search for hidden agendas, ulterior motives or simply promote skepticism and mistrust. What end did it serve to potentially dampen the initiative of the Joint Task Force? The worst result would be an improvement of communication and cooperation between the two parties.

I acknowledge the difficult task the media has in their desire to keep the citizenry informed, but I believe there is an obligation to present factual, accurate information without prejudice or sensationalism.

I welcome the opportunity to communicate with them in accomplishing that goal.

Mike Duman is the City Council member from the Chuckatuck Borough. Email him at mike.duman@mikeduman.com.