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Carroll County Commissioners Can’t Agree on Timely Communication with Media

By Christian Alexandersen
Times Staff Writer

Changing the way the Carroll County Board of Commissioners communicates with the media caused a hullabaloo among board members Thursday when they bickered and accused one another of taking advantage of the system.

The board voted 3-1 in favor of the new press release policy after a fiery discussion. Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, R-District 2, voted against the new policy because he said it was convoluted. Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, stormed out of the meeting before the commissioners voted on the new policy. Howard did not return and did not vote on the policy.

The new policy is to send out press releases immediately if all five commissioners give the go-ahead. If a majority of the commissioners approve of a press release, commissioners will be given one hour to add their input before it is sent to the media. All press releases will be sent out by 4 p.m.

The current policy used by the board was never formally adopted or written down, according to Roberta Windham, the county's public information officer. Currently, board press releases can only be issued after three commissioners have approved the release. Anyone quoted in the release must specifically approve their quote as well as the release.

Also, individual releases do not need board approval. Releases are posted on the county website and published through the GovDelivery System including on Facebook and Twitter.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, R-District 1, initiated the conversation on changing the way press releases are issued weeks ago after claiming that Howard received preferential treatment. Frazier has said that Howard gets out more press releases because his assistant, Windham, is the county's public information officer.



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