Lets support local businesses To hear that the city staff is denying a local business (The Hastings Journal) of the fortitude of being the “official newspaper” for the purpose of publishing …
Lets support local businesses
To hear that the city staff is denying a local business (The Hastings Journal) of the fortitude of being the “official newspaper” for the purpose of publishing public notices, I was saddened. Once I did a little research, I learned the staff author of the council memo and the person recommending that the St. Paul Pioneer Press be the designated newspaper, was Director of Administrative Services Julie Flaten, it became very clear of her motive.
At a price of 50% higher than our local newspaper, Julie describes this in her council memo as “minimal.” If the city were going to purchase a new vehicle for 50% more than an identical vehicle, would this be minimal? If the union asked for a 50% wage increase, is this minimal? During these turbulent economic times, I would only think that managing the finances for the public would be a top priority. Coincidently, Ms. Flaten also oversees the finance department.
As a retired department head and part of the city management team, I learned over the years, when it is about controlling the story or pushing for her own agenda, taxpayer money is no object to her. In fact, as department heads, then Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee and Administrative Services Director Ms. Flaten directed staff to “Just write the article, if we approve it, the newspaper will print it.” Is this true transparency? Or is it controlling what is released to the public?
Over this past year, the city has publicly stated many times to “support local business” and to “shop local.” Maybe then, our elected officials should lead by example and support our local newspaper, and not vote how they are told to vote by one person controlling the story.
Ironically, Ms. Flaten’s husband owns a small local business. During the past several years, his business has received more than $150,000 each year from local taxpayer funded government jobs. Is this $150,000 just minimal?
Michael T. Schutt, Fire Chief (retired)