October 2, 2015
VSEA learned through a September 27 Burlington Free Press story that the State recently sent a memo to all agency and department heads, directing them to contact the Fifth Floor before responding to press requests and inquiries. The story raised the eyebrows of newly elected VSEA President Dave Bellini, who told WIA that VSEA will be inquiring soon about the reach of the directive, meaning does it apply to classified employees as well.
In a follow-up story a few days later on VTDigger, the State’s chief spokesperson downplays the memo, calling it a “routine reminder” and explaining that he just wants to ensure reporters are receiving the most accurate information. When asked if the memo runs counter to the State’s declared commitment to transparency, the spokesperson replies, “I just want to be very clear. I have never and will never tell someone that they can’t go to the press.”
Note: VSEA advises state employees who are delivering testimony at the State House (which we encourage!) or talking with the press (which we also encourage!) to preference your comments with “I am speaking as a citizen of Vermont and not on behalf of my agency or department.”
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