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Clarkston News Editorial: Closing communication is not the answer



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February 19, 2014 - It's come to our attention that this newspaper has acted unfairly. We, of course, disagree.

The City of The Village of Clarkston's manager has given notice she will no longer answer questions from this newspaper or its representatives.

It is her right. The freedom of speech also means the freedom not to speak. We feel her actions are retaliatory, punitive and unbecoming of a public official. So, what is this all about?

It's about this newspaper giving voice to this community. It is about this newspaper allowing individuals -- not just elected or appointed officials -- to voice their concerns. We do this in a couple of ways, namely with letters to the editor and newsstories researched and written by our reporters.

One resident continually voices his concerns about his city government. It is his city government as a taxpaying resident. His concerns are many and they appear valid. We have run this Clarkston watchdog's letters for years. Conversely, we have run letters attaching this man's claims and credibility. Two weeks ago, we ran a story (City Spat Unresolved, Feb. 5, 2014) with both this man and the city manager face-to-face. Claims and counterclaims.

Last week the city manager informed our representative she doesn't read her hometown newspaper, and we quote, "I need to tell you that I will not be available for any interviews to the Clarkston News whatsoever."

In essence, she will no longer communicate publicly with the community. This may be acceptable to the every-day-citizen, but it is not acceptable for a person paid by the taxpayer.

It is time for this city to hire a professional administrator and not to gerrymander rules during this procedure.

This newspaper is now fully investigating all Freedom of Information requests made by the concerned citizen. We will take his claims to the state's capitol, Lansing. Here, attorneys for the Michigan Press Association will comb over all requests guaranteed by Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Locally, we will dig into the actual claims and procedures.

We encourage residents to keep reading and writing. We encourage you to attend meetings, be involved. Don't let this embarrassment continue.

-- Editorial by Don Rush

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