Sometimes I enjoy irony. Sometimes not so much.
In a March 26th Troy Times article Mayor Janice Daniels mentions a March 24 presentation on “transparency in government.”
It turns out she did give a presentation on March 24 at the Michigan Conservative Political Action Conference in Holt, Michigan on the subject of “Transparency in Government.” In fact, this was such important city business, it prevented her from attending a ribbon cutting in Troy scheduled for the same day. (Mayor Pro Tem McGinnis was able to be on hand, though, so the ribbon cutting was able to proceed as scheduled.)
Hmmmmmmm…This must have been a big, darn deal. I wonder what Daniels had to say about the City of Troy? Did she share that this is, in fact, a city with an outstanding reputation in terms of its management and financial reporting? I hope so! I decided to find out.
I emailed the Mayor and the rest of council and asked. Mayor Daniels responded:
“Thank you Mrs. Hodorek for your interest in my representation of the City of Troy. I do not have a copy of that speech however …”
... and she went on to tell me all about her efforts to “develop greater citizen participation in government at the earliest ages.” She also told me about how she was on television. And about her web site. And her office hours. She went on and on about all sorts of initiatives. But nothing about that presentation.
Hmmmmmmm. I read her lengthy response and thought that perhaps I had not made my request clear. I looked over my original email request. Turns out, yes, I was crystal clear. (Yep, you might even say transparent.) My words:
“I would appreciate a copy of that presentation. It seems it would have been on the topic of ‘Transparency in Government’ and given at a political event in Holt. I would be interested in seeing how the Mayor represented Troy in this presentation.”
Yep. My request was absolutely translucent it was so darn clear. Her response was … well, it was a classic, political spin, murky “non-response.” The only thing that was transparent about it is the fact that she didn’t want to answer my question, but was certainly happy to provide all sorts of great, unrelated key messages she wanted to be sure I heard.
Wait, I thought to myself. I'm jumping to what may be an unfair conclusion. I'll try again. So, I continued the conversation with an email saying I was pleased she is excited about her many initiatives. And I also said:
“I am disappointed that you have apparently not properly documented/retained a copy of a presentation that reflects upon the City of Troy. An audience of people has been left with an impression and yet there is no record of what you said. Did city staff review these remarks? Did you seek input, vis-a-vis the communication plan for the city? Was your message coordinated from a strategic marketing perspective?
“The proper management of the city's reputation is my concern; it has been since I reached out to you in December. I am now affirmed in my gut feeling that my concern is warranted. And I am left, quite frankly, scratching my head. I caution you to be wise and discerning in your zeal to make a name for yourself. ‘Less is more’ should be your mantra, especially with our staff management in such a vulnerable position.”
She sent a one-line response and thanked me for my “kind support.” But, she didn’t answer my questions.
Hmmmmm. I’ll give her one more chance, I thought, and decided to try a little friendly humor. I sent this back, complete with the smiley face at the end:
“So there will be no transparency about your presentation about Transparency in Government? How ironic! :)”
No response. Apparently, she didn’t appreciate the humor, the smiley … or the irony.
I don’t appreciate the lack of message coordination, fact checking, reputation management, or transparency. And it's crystal clear to me now I should stop expecting it.
Oh, the irony. :(