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Better Communications are Needed between Gloucester City Government and the People

Bill's Point of View

 By Bill Cleary

It’s time to change the way the City government has communicated with 6a00d8341bf7d953ef010536e2a426970b-150wi you. The Independent team is a proponent of supporting and informing the City News of all major and current developments within the community.
“We are a strong proponent for more informative use of Channel 19 and for bringing Council meetings back to Channel 19 so everyone can see what actions City government is taking in your behalf. 
~Gloucester City Independent Democrat Mayor candidate William James (October 2006)
One of the many promises made by Gloucester City Mayor William James and his running mates Nick Marchese and Jay Brophy in 2006 was to improve communications between local government and the residents of the community. When they first took office in 2007 the James Gang was continually talking with the press. And recently the mayor did issue a 3500 word statement in October prior to the November mayor election on what he (they) had accomplished in his first term in office.
But with so many rumors flowing about the City and the fact that channel 19 is no longer showing council meetings it certainly suggest that in recent months that improvement in communicating with the taxpayers is needed.
There are several stories that come to mind that should have and could have been treated differently. 
Example- Because of the budget deficit the City cut eight jobs in the fire department and is not replacing three positions in the police department.  Since the police and fire department are two services that residents rely on for their safety further explanation should have been released explaining how the cutbacks will not interfere with that protection.
 Fire Chief Hagan and Police Chief Berglund has assured council that our safety will not be jeopardized. 
What are those plans? How much money will be saved? And since the 8 firemen were laid off was the increase in this year’s municipal taxes still necessary?  If so why? What about the ambulance service being privatized, tell us more, don’t make us guess.  An update once in a while would be nice.
Example-The dumping of landfill material on the City owned Amspec property is yet another story not handled correctly. Thousands of tons of fill had been dumped at the Water Street site in September when someone contacted CNB and asked what was going on? A call to the Mayor and this reporter was told the partial in and outs of what was supposedly announced at a city council meeting. That meeting was not shown on Channel 19 nor did the reporter covering the meeting write about it in their story. 
Come to find out the City will receive millions in compensation for this project.
Good press it is called. Even if it the council meeting was broadcast on the local channel a press release to area news papers, TV stations  about this project would give the City some much needed favorable publicity.  
Example-The Country's first organic waste to energy/compost recycling facility will be built in Gloucester City. A resolution is passed at a council meeting, a few lines in that document says that an agreement has been reached to give the company the go ahead. Not a word from the City about the $30 million construction cost or what the city will receive in return for allowing it to be built on city owned property. Instead of getting the story out via a press release nothing is mentioned. The rumor mill started and CNB reached out to the one of the owners of the recycling facility and to the city solicitor for more information to write an article on the topic. 

All great stories. 

Yet the City failed to communicate with the residents about these topics and many others that have been happening recently in Gloucester City. What is wrong with the City Administrator, or the Community Relations Specialist issuing a press release? Isn’t that part of their job?
A New Year’s resolution our Mayor and Council might consider would be to go back to their 2006 campaign promises of keeping the public informed on a regular basis. Be it good news or bad. Mr. Mayor and council you are spending our hard earned tax dollars, and residents/taxpayers deserve that consideration.  Let’s preempt the rapid spread of rumors in 2011. Get out ahead of the story before it breaks.  
One thing further, I stand by my story that I wrote on November 14.  Specifically the portion of the article that referenced the rumor about a medical waste facility, a garbage compost plant and a metal scrap yard were to be located at Southport.  Mayor James said at the time, “There are no plans on the table to accept any of those type businesses at South Port.” December 22 a resolution authorizing the construction of a organic waste to energy/compost recycling plant in the Southport area was passed  by council. 
Anyone who feels that they have been “misquoted” by this reporter is urged to contact me to rectify the mistake if you feel one was made. Email [email protected] or call the Gloucester City News, 856-456-1199. 
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