Friday, September 4th, 2015

Krise-O-Meter

Make staff available to press on a regular basis

"I will make myself and my staff available to the press on a regular basis."


Updates

Kriseman and his staff have been willing to talk

There's at least one promise on the Krise-O-Meter that gives PolitiFact Florida a little room for self-reflection -- whether Mayor Rick Kriseman has been open to dealing with us and our peers.

Kriseman said during his campaign he would make himself and his staff available to the press, and so far, that has been the case. His staff, particularly communications director Benjamin Kirby, often help us find information to rate the very Krise-O-Meter you're reading now.

Kirby served as spokesman for Kriseman's transition team before moving to his current job working with the city's marketing department and speaking to the media. He was the communications manager for the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board from 2007 to 2013.

"Everyone in the mayor's office -- and throughout city government -- is regularly available to the media to answer questions and talk about what we're doing," Kirby told us. That is to say, the people of St. Petersburg can know what St. Petersburg is doing.

In prior Krise-O-Meter items, Kirby has regularly acted as a liaison to provide us information from the codes department, vendors providing city services and various city agencies.

Tampa Bay Times reporters who cover St. Petersburg told us they haven't had problems speaking with staff, either. Times city reporter Charlie Frago said even when there is miscommunication on an issue, the mayor's office amends or clarifies its comments. St. Petersburg reporter Kameel Stanley added there have been no constraints placed on access to other city officials. She can pick up the phone and call anyone with no interference.

Other media members felt the same way. Steve Newborn, interim news director at Tampa Bay NPR affiliate WUSF, said none of his reporters had ever had a problem accessing Kriseman or his staff. Michael Hardin, executive producer of special projects at TV station Bay News 9, didn't mention any problems the station had reaching city staff.

It's unusual for us to have an item in which we're our own best source to make a rating. But in this case, PolitiFact Florida can vouch for Kriseman's administration by saying our questions have routinely been answered. We rate this a Promise Kept.

Sources:

Tampa Bay Times, "Rick Kriseman announces several hires; chief of staff has past arrest," Dec. 19, 2013

Interview with Benjamin Kirby, mayor's communications director, April 15, 2015

Interview with Kameel Stanley, Tampa Bay Times metro reporter, June 1, 2015

Interview with Charlie Frago, Tampa Bay Times metro reporter, June 1, 2015

Interview with Steve Newborn, WUSF interim news director, June 5, 2015

Interview with Michael Hardin, Bay News 9 executive producer of special projects, June 5, 2015