City Officials Need To Study How To Handle Media


Let me tell you a story:

Last week,  reporter Dan Christensen and I tried to attend a meeting of the local city managers association at Sunrise City Hall.

We were greeted as warmly as vice cops knocking on the door of a bordello.

The managers refused to let us in.  They refused to answer our questions about what was going on inside and what was being discussed.

 Weston City Manager John Flint brushed us off: “I’ve got nothing to say.”

But these unelected officials have been negotiating in secret a multi-million dollar no-bid waste contract with Wheelabrator Technologies.

Flint has been part of these negotiations.

But instead of being polite.  Instead of telling us what he could.  Flint dismissed us.

Too many city officials handle the media like Flint.  Their instinct is to be secretive and refuse comment, when they should be transparent.

But as I told so many city officials over the years, you only hurt yourself by making an enemy of the media.

Let me tell you how a good reporter handles stonewalling: We figure something important is being hidden.  We redouble our efforts to dig out the truth.

Broward League of Cities’ Rhonda Calhoun recognized the problem.

She organized the workshop below.

It was really needed.

I wonder if Flint attended.



From: Rhonda Calhoun <>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 11:12:54 -0400
To: Rhonda Calhoun <>
Subject: Broward League Media Training Workshop TONIGHT!!

Broward League of Cities Media Training Workshop

“How to Handle An Ambush Interview”

As elected officials, we are expected to be available and forthcoming with the news media, but nobody wants to be caught off guard.  Join us for a Broward League of Cities interactive workshop  on expecting the unexpected and maintaining control when challenging media situations arise.

Thursday, March 15, 2012 from 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. at the Broward County Convention Center, Room 223.

Rhonda Calhoun
Executive Director
Broward League of Cities
115 South Andrews Avenue, Suite 122
Fort Lauderdale, Florida   33301
Visit our Website
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13 Responses to “City Officials Need To Study How To Handle Media”

  1. Tamarac Talk says:

    Hilarious! They have classes for this? I bet they have classes on how to speak to residents and reply back to sound as bland and vague as possible. Love the politicians that can speak like real human beings and are approachable as well. All the more respect if they write on Buddy’s website! You know who you are!

  2. Open Government says:

    If they had nothing to hide they have nothing to fear. Is this costing us money?

  3. Sam the Sham says:

    City managers are appointed, not elected. This League of Cities workshop appears to be focused on elected officials. I don’t see a big deal here. City managers attend training seminars all the time. So do cops and judges. So do journalists too, by the way.

    Although I love to see the guilty flounder, I cringe when I see an (apparently innocent but clueless) elected official being sliced and diced on TV. Who does not want to be represented by competent people? As long as the seminars aren’t geared to teach them how to lie to us and steal from us, I see nothing wrong.

    This is from our story this week in the Miami Herald:
    “The Sunshine Law does not generally apply to private organizations like the low-profile BCCMA. Still, the law’s broad access requirements have been held to apply when such groups are delegated governmental functions or play an “integral” role in the decision-making process, according to a 2009 Attorney General’s legal opinion….The association’s meeting agenda was confidential, and its discussions were private. But its web site identifies a dozen “key” economic and political issues including development, the escalating costs of providing police and fire services, and waste management.

    “Trash disposal has been a recent focus, according to records made public by other governmental bodies.

    “For example, minutes from the most recent meeting of the county’s Resource Recovery Board show that Weston City Manager appeared before the board to describe how the association is working to craft a contract that may be used to seal the immense, no-bid trash disposal deal with Waste Management.”

  4. Sam the Sham says:

    Sorry for the second post. I hate secret meetings where they price fix and give sweetheart deals to insiders like Wheelabrator. Although I think “Gator” Bergeron is a collosal asshole, I hope he can break the monopoly and reduce our rates.

  5. Always tell the truth says:

    Will the featured speakers include Carlton Moore, Cindi Hutchinson, Sylvia Portier, Charlotte Rodstrom and Cary Keno?

  6. Le Peerman says:

    Probably won’t be attending this class altho I believe in learning as much as possible. I am probably not the best person to talk to the press mainly because I tell the truth when asked a question even if I don’t know the answer. I do have a habit of bringing my digital recorder so that if I am misquoted I can have them fix it.

  7. Richard J Kaplan says:

    The law is:

    286.011 Public meetings and records; public inspection; criminal and civil penalties.–

    (1) All meetings of any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision,



    Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law applies when two or more members of the same elected or appointed public board or commission meet to discuss or take action on any matter which may foreseeably come before them in their official capacity. The Sunshine Law requires that:

    (1) meetings be open to the public; (2) notice be given; and (3) minutes be taken.

    Summarized from the Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual, 2008 Edition, Volume 30 (Prepared by the Office of the Attorney General of Florida, Published by the First Amendment Foundation).

    The BCCMA does not fall under this definition. It is a voluntary professional association. City Managers may or may not belong or participate if they want. To my knowledge, no Commission has ever appointed their City Manager to the organization or approved their membership.

    BTW, other recent seminars the Broward League of Cities has given have been on Social Media and the Public Records Law, and on the new Broward Ethics Laws, and through other organizations on the topic of how to more effectively communicate with your constituents, businesses and residents.

    Also, I seem to remember that you, or it was someone else from the newspapers, that participated in a seminar at the Florida League of Cities for elected officials on communicating with the Media.

  8. City Activist Robert walsh says:

    Buddy I agree w/ you. I am sorry you expeirenced this type of bs- The State Leg. was suppose to pass legislation so Citizens, citizenry, etc, is able and allowed to speak and attend any City, county etc. meeting(never got to it-next year right guys). Wheather its Bertha Henry, Lee Feldman in Ft.lau this guy out in what Sunrise etc. And these workshops same thing. You have to let the public speak. afetr all we are the ones paying the bills not the City Managers. some of them think they can and do what ever they want-sorry guys you can’t. everything they do is Public Record. Any meeting conducted at City Hall the public, reporters etc. should be able to not only attend but to participate.Again any time tazx dollars are used to pay from salaries to some carnival-all is up for comment and scrunity and if they don’t like it QUIT…..

  9. From the Bleachers says:

    Buddy, Let’s end this dribble. Call the Broward County OIG and ask him what he thinks. I believe that it is his job to read the law and then decide what needs to be done. The selective commentary by former public officials is just to tiresome to read and then attempt to understand the misguided logic.
    Wouldn’t it be a trip if all of those city managers(also known as city officials)had to stand in front of a jury of taxpayers of Broward and explain themselves?
    Maybe they could negoiate a group lawyers’ fee?

  10. Resident says:

    This is shameful ! I’m not surprised old politician new ones it doesn’t matter the game is still the same. Sunrise is the worst when it comes to holding back information unless of course there is a benefit to the individual. That doesn’t hold to just one of our officials it’s ALL of them. Some of the politicians who write on Mr Nevins blogs could fool you too. We know who you are phonies.

    When I was a reporter and Pat Salerno was city manager, Sunrise was one of the worst in Broward for not following the Public Records Law. I don’t know what’s going on today because I haven’t requested any information from them.
    The other major offender has been the School Board, which continues to withhold lawful information from the public. This includes, and I’m not kidding her, minutes of meetings. The past and current School Board makes Sunrise appear transparent.

  11. LMFAO says:

    City managers are NOT public officials because they are city employees and not elected? Just more corruption manifesting itself in the epicenter of it all….good ol’boy Sunrise.

  12. Commissioner John Sims says:

    If you want to read what I think, click on my blog here:

  13. sidelines says:

    perhaps the Herald article prompted Tues. BCC agenda item 57 RFP and backup, or just interesting timing….