Rules of Disengagement

This May 20th piece in The Auroran : http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=10765 touches on the non-effective communications the Town of Aurora has been pouring resources into over the past decade.

Clr. Thompson advanced two motions earlier in May which I touched on in a previous post here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/hashtags-and-gladrags/

Without rehashing those points I want to focus this post on the “prime opportunity to have residents weigh in on communications” that was supposed to happen at the past Aurora Street Festival.

As quoted in The Auroran: “Michael Kemp, Aurora’s Manager of Corporate Communications believes that this is a venue regularly used to “engage” residents and that all questions and suggestions from Aurorans are compiled and followed up on.

So did anyone else take up the town’s offer?

When I arrived at the street festival and finished at the Aurora Public Library booth I went in search of the Town of Aurora booth. When I finally found it around 12:30 there were only 2 people staffing the booth. One was talking with the only other person under the tent and I had to struggle to get the attention of the other. When she finally put down her cellphone I inquired if she could point me to the Sport Aurora both but she told me that she didn’t know where it was because she just started her shift. Instead of trying to help me she just stood there looking at me blankly hoping I would leave. I looked around at the materials in the booth and found nothing that corresponded to the matter of communications and neither staff member seemed interested in compiling any questions or suggestions to follow up on. Also absent was the town’s Manager of Corporate communications.

You would think that with 2 council motions to shore up communications and recognizing the “prime opportunity” to engage residents that the manager of the department would be on hand, but I guess not.

But then why am I at all surprised this is a department run under the understanding that “Communications is one of those amorphous things where you can’t necessarily get a full handle on the scope of what our department does.”

Because nowhere in the scope of what that department does would be to successfully communicate the things residents and council members can’t get a full handle on.

It’s the same absurd logic that somehow the Town of Aurora can only communicate “approved items”.

Yup, that’s right if it’s not an approved item the town of Aurora can simply shuffle the matter from their to-do pile to under the rug like it never existed.

and that is as insane as not having processes or procedures for removal or editing of material on the town’s website as revealed back in 2010: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/what-does-half-a-million-dollars-buy/ where it was stated that : “I have been advised by our communications unit that the Town does not have written processes or procedures for removal or editing of material posted on the Town’s website.”

The question now is how far along has the town advanced from its 1999 Corporate Communications policy?

This April 28th, 2003 piece from The Auroran advanced an “emphasis of providing a central focus for a two-way flow of information between the town and its citizens”:

The laundry list of initiatives includes commitments to “user-friendly”, “service oriented” and sustainable” communications we have never received.

Over the past 6 years Aurora taxpayers have been saddled with a 67% increase in operating costs. It now costs us $200,000 more a year for the Town to communicate as poorly if not worse than it did in 2009. Here is a breakdown by year:

2009 – $389,900
2010 – $455,700
2011 – $490,800
2012 – $507,100
2013 – $540,000
2014 – $580,000

This year the budget was $595,900.

In 2018 it will be over $700,000:

Over 10 years we’ll have seen an increase of $320,000, almost double the 2009 budget, and for what?

A Crisis Communications policy that still hasn’t been updated even after the huge fumble with the 2013/2014 ice storm?

A department whose practice is only to communicate “approved items”.

A department that bungled the roll out of the town’s website.

and

A department that believes Communications is one of those amorphous things where you can’t necessarily get a full handle on the scope of what they do.

Considering they keep getting rewarded for poor performance what incentive could they possibly have to engage with the community?

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