Ad for Galion PIO causes stir

By Kimberly Gasuras - Galion Inquirer

Carl Watt

Carl Watt

An advertisement on the city’s website for the position of public information officer has caused some debate, mainly through social media, recently.

The part of the advertisement that came under fire reads, “Research attitudes, opinions and perceptions of selected internal and external groups and reports that information to elected officials and department heads.”

The information was added to the advertisement days after it was posted due to it being inadvertently omitted, according to Galion City Council president Carl Watt.

“Pages were copied with information on the front and back sides of each paper. When the information got to the person (who) posted the ad on the website, they did not have the information that was on the back of those two pages. We discovered the error, then added the information on the posting on the website,” Watt said.

A post attributed tp Nick Baines on the Galion Livestream Facebook page accused the city of trying to limit free speech.

The post states, “Galion’s Public Information Officer job description changed again and now includes: “Research attitudes, opinions and perceptions of selected internal and external groups and reports that information to elected officials and department heads.” Isn’t this exactly what opponents to this position warned about? So your anti-administration comments on Facebook are now going to be reported. For what purpose? To have your opinions neutralized? What are you going to do about your tax dollars being used against you? And they’ve been complaining about the number of records requests they’ve been receiving up to now! You’ll need to submit a weekly record request to city administration to see if your name or your comments have been “researched” and what discussion and actions have occurred about you and your opinions. The end goal of this PIO position demanded by the mayor and the go-along people on council is, and always has been, to stifle your free speech! They want you to shut up because you’re afraid of being reported on.”

Galion City Council member Susan Bean, who has opposed the position created by Mayor Tom O’Leary, said she is not surprised by the addition to the advertisement.

“It was clear this is where it was going. I was ridiculed for warning about it, and I was the sole vote against it,” Bean said.

Galion resident Steve Baldinger also commented on the Facebook post about the position.

“It could be used to improve the city as well. I don’t see how creating this position leads to my free speech being stifled. Everyone has an opinion and there are too many negative opinions in this town. I am on the record as not agreeing with the need for the position at this time in Galion, but I do not believe my right constitutional rights are being violated by the city implementing this position,” Baldinger said.

Watt said the reporting of information back to council and administration will be a positive for Galion.

“We want to know what people’s views are on topics we are discussing and if they put it on the Internet, it’s public anyway for anyone to read,” Watt said.

O’Leary did not return calls about this issue.


Connect with Gasuras on Twitter @kimberlygasuras

Carl Watt Watt

By Kimberly Gasuras

Galion Inquirer