As a reporter I interact directly and on a daily basis with a number of public information officials.
I also interact with many elected officials.
So imagine my surprise today when I discovered what appears to be a blatantly misleading post about one of the most respected departments in the City-County Building. Instead of printing the quote, which appears to be misleading and a character attack, I decided to contact the County Mayor’s Office and ask firsthand if, in fact, the Office of the Mayor has reduced or expanded government hirings in regards to the County Mayor’s Communications Department.
I further asked for clarification on if the Mayor has hired more employees for the Communications Department. Mr. Grider, the chief County Public Information Officer, responded with the following statement:
“I have one staff person. She was previously a recycling coordinator in the Solid Waste department. As part of her duties, she handled community outreach and most press releases and media requests for the department and much of Engineering and Public Works – in fact, she has a degree in communications. When Ellen Blasius, the former Knox County Parks and Recreation communications person, left the County, the decision was made for Jennifer to assume that role, while continuing her communications duties pertaining to the Solid Waste and EPW. Ellen Blasius’ position was never filled. Jennifer Linginfelter’s departure from Solid Waste also left a vacancy in that department. A convenience center operator – who has a master’s degree – was transferred into the vacant recycling coordinator position. A driver for EPW was transferred to the convenience center operator position and the driver position was never filled. With Ellen’s departure, there was a net loss of one position. As you can see, to say that the communications staff increased in simply wrong.”