Today my answering machine recorded up an unenthusiastic message from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The mayor invited me to participate in a “telephone town hall” on Wednesday at 6:30PM, but she forgot to leave the phone number I am supposed to call in order to participate. I searched around for more information pertaining to this telephone town hall, but I could only find two references to a recently held Baltimore telephone town hall. The first reference came in today’s “The Neighborhood News” weekly email newsletter from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods:
“Earlier in the week Mayor Rawlings-Blake also held a Telephone Town Hall with residents in East and Northeast Baltimore. The mayor got a lot of good questions from residents and discussed jobs, city services, recreation opportunities for kids, vacant housing, education, and much more. Cabinet in the Community and the Telephone Town Hall are great opportunities for Baltimore residents to be directly engaged in their government—to see government in action and to hold government accountable.”
There was no mention of this week’s telephone town hall.
I also came up with this link which originates on the site of a political strategist (I bold the very interesting part):
“Baltimore Mayor Speaks with Community Using Telephone Town Hall
October 24, 2013
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake connected with thousands of city residents to take questions from the community and to highlight her important initiative “Cabinet in the Community.” The event targeted residents of Northwest and Northeast Baltimore where the event will be held later this month, bringing together residents and members of the Mayor’s cabinet to address needs in the community.
Telephone Town Hall technology provides a way for official offices to reach out to their constituencies in a controlled environment. Questions are prescreened by operators, allowing the official and his or her staff to control the tone and direction of the conversation. Political campaigns often use telephone town hall events to explain why voters should support a candidate, but adapting the event to official offices allows elected officials to engage within their communities.”
So the taxpayers are paying a private political strategist to give them the privilege of asking the mayor what amounts to a planted question so she appears to be accessible, transparent, and able to answer “random” questions from constituents. The exercise is so controlled that there is little marketing for the event and the call (that only came the day before the town hall) that promoted the event left out the necessary participation phone number. Another expensive waste that is only being embarked on because it is supposed to personally market the mayor for bigger and better things.