Awhile back, we had a question on the KACM Listserv about the rumor mill and I got a neat answer from Howard Partington (City Administrator, Great Bend). I asked if I could post his response on the Blog. Here it is"
"In all my years as an administrator, I don't think I have found a really good way to combat rumors. I could write a book various aspects relating to rumors.
"Let me tell you about what I finally decided to do relative to people writing letters to the editor that are false or misleading. It took an especially nasty letter that caused me to take the action that I took. First of all, I feel my responsibility is to my governing body so I what I have done is to create( with approval of the Mayor) an agenda item at the end of each council meeting that is under the heading of City Administrator's Update. The final portion of my report is what I call "Fact or Fiction".
"I may or may not have a fact or fiction report, but always include it in the agenda item as a possibility. If someone has written something in the paper that is false or misleading, I may go ahead and prepare a written document for the governing body that I read and hand out to the governing body and media at the council meeting. Again, I want the governing body to know if something has been misrepresented.
"On all occasions that I have presented my fact or fiction, the newspaper has reprinted my report exactly as I have prepared it. I have never responded to a letter to the editor by another letter, but this way, I am able to inform my governing body and at the same time tell the public if what was written was true, false or a misrepresentation. After the first time I presented fact or fiction, seven of the eight council members thanked me for standing up for the city, the other council member was the one that wrote the letter.
"One interesting side note, one regular letter to the editor writer called and ask me about an issue as he didn't want to end up in my fact or fiction report."
See you all at the Conference in November.