City of EnidUPDATE:  The City of Enid, without comment, has decided to start sending press releases again.  Kudos to Derrick Silas of the Communications Department for having the fortitude to put the Route 60 Sentinel on the “To” list for two emails today (Wednesday October 29, 2014). 

Ok.  This opinion editorial is a bit long and it doesn’t have pictures or graphics.  So, it breaks a lot of rules.  So, I hope I don’t lose you right off the bat.

In the world of communications, various organizations and entities will send out important information to media outlets via a press release to help disseminate information to the public.  Media outlets such as Enid Buzz, the Dying Dinosaur (the local paper), and the local radio stations, along with Route 60 will get the information and publish or broadcast the information. Depending on the urgency of the information, I will either publish the information to the Route 60 Sentinel Facebook page or as a part of an article here on the news site.  Even if it’s published here, it automatically is published on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Most organizations such as Enid Public Schools, the Enid Police Department, the Garfield County Election Board, and Garfield County Emergency Management have been great since 2010 when I started the Route 60 Sentinel.  And until this past 12 months, I could have said the same for the City of Enid.

Noticed a gap of City of Enid news at times on Route 60?  Yeah, me too.  You’re not alone.  Let me tell you a little story.

It all started many months ago during the unveiling of the drawings of the yet-to-be built downtown hotel.  I, and a few other members of local media were talking, when one of them said, “PHOTOBOMB!”  Like any good friend, we all leapt into action to photobomb somebody.  All good-natured and meant in fun, of course.  We moved in view of the camera.  There was waving and antics.  Mostly innocuous stuff.  Nothing profane or unprofessional.  Later, I received an email from one the “photobombers” who said we had photobombed an interview City of Enid PR Director Steve Kime was having with a hotel association executive.  You may know Mr. Kime from the annoyingly boring (yet sometimes possibly helpful) videos the City of Enid produces and puts on the Enid Television Network, YouTube, and Facebook.  Apparently, Mr. Kime was livid that we had done such a thing.  I found it all rather preposterous, but I wanted it understood that we did not want anything to reflect negatively on Enid in any way.  So, I emailed City of Enid City Manager Eric Benson and offered my apologies.  Now, I should back up here a bit.  Up to this point, they didn’t even KNOW, I was in on the photobombing.  Why?  Because Mr. Kime was unable to identify me in the video.  He didn’t know who I WAS.  Perhaps, I should’ve been insulted.  After all, I had talked with Mr. Kime at the press conference.  Heck, I serve on the Enid Television Network Citizen’s Advisory Board of which he is the staff member assigned to and we had b previously met several times.  But he yet, he couldn’t identify me.  I still had no problem coming clean and explaining myself.

It gets worse.

After some time passed, I heard through the grapevine that one of the “photobombers” wasn’t receiving press releases from the City of Enid.  I found the idea bizarre, but it piqued my interest.  It was then that I realized that it had been awhile since Route 60 had received a press release from them as well.  I checked.  We compared notes and it turned out we stopped getting them at the same time.  Yep.  Right after the photobombing.

They tried to blame a new employee.  Bull.   Oh, of course that makes sense.  That new employee just happened to stop sending us BOTH the press releases at the same time AFTER we upset Mr. Kime.

Eventually, through the help of Commissioner Tammy Wilson and City Manager Eric Benson, we were able to get back into the loop and begin receiving press releases again and start relaying City of Enid news to you the readers.  After all, if we don’t relay this information to you, how will you find it?  The paper?  Maybe.  Radio?  Sure.  If you could catch it at the time. (they now have started posting the news online as well.)

Now, I’m sad to say, the issue has arisen again.  I have not received a press release from the City of Enid since sometime after the first of this month.  My counterpart has not received one in a while either.  It’s our understanding that the “newer” employee is no longer with the City of Enid.  That’s unfortunate as it’s clear she was not the problem.  I suspect her dismissal has more to do with budget cuts but that’s another matter.  But I have to question even that.  If they really wanted to save money, they should look no further than Steve Kime.  A quote from a Dying Dinosaur article from December 4, 2012 announcing his hire:

Kime’s salary is $75,000. He said he does not know if he is here for a six-month or a 60-year project.  Kime said growing up in Perry, which he left 40 years ago, he understands and appreciates communities like Enid and Perry.

Holy crap.  That’s enough for me.  He can’t even do math.  60 year project and he left Perry 40 years ago.  How old is this dude? And folks. I am not the only one with some sort of issue with him.  In fact, let me be clear.  I have spoken to many in the media and around town that just shake their head and wonder how in the world the City of Enid got saddled with him.  They’ve all sworn me to secrecy, so I will not break that as I value all of their friendship and confidence, but some of them might surprise you and others, maybe not.  I suppose I’m just the one to speak up and say it.

Let’s save the taxpayers $75K (I’m sure the actual number is higher now) and maybe the City of Enid PR Department can go back to creating good public relations and working well with the local media.