The administration of Mayor Pedro Segarra, who has pledged transparency at city hall since taking over Hartford's top job more than two years ago, has instructed department heads to check in with his office before speaking to the media.
In an e-mail to city department heads sent Nov. 9, Maribel La Luz, Segarra's spokeswoman, instructs city employees to contact her before speaking with any journalists.
"If any journalist e-mails or leaves a voicemail, please let me know before responding," La Luz wrote. "If a journalist gets you on the phone, tell them to contact me directly with their request. We need to be aware of developing stories. Thank you for your cooperation."
Segarra said Thursday that journalists are not prohibited from contacting city employees, but that he wants to ensure city officials are putting out an accurate, "unified message."
"The policy of the departments has always been to contact the communications office. That doesn't mean I'm not transparent," he said. "We want to speak with a single voice and be consistent with what we're saying."
Asked why the e-mail was sent last week, Segarra said a new city spokeswoman had joined the staff and was reiterating previous instructions. La Luz has worked for the city since August.
While reporters aren't banned from reaching out to city officials, Segarra said, "Does that mean you can walk in here and talk to whoever you want carte blanche? No."
"We want to make sure there's a consistent, clear, transparent message," Segarra said.
The mayor has repeatedly pledged transparency at city hall.
In his 2011 budget address, Segarra said, "When I became mayor, I outlined four key goals for government responsibility to ensure accountability and to grow Hartford. Transparency and openness are the hallmark of my administration."
The mayor also emphasized the importance of increased transparency during his 2011 state of the city address. In a June 2011 interview with the Courant, he talked about the need to restore openness after the resignation of former Mayor Eddie Perez, who was convicted of five felony corruption charges and sentenced to three years in prison.
"The first year was a lot of work in restoring trust and transparency, dealing with finances and developing a new way of doing business," Segarra said.
Segarra's chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, reiterated that pledge in a June 13 e-mail to the Courant: "The mayor has made greater transparency and access to documents and materials a hallmark of his time in office and he remains steadfastly committed to this principle and practice."Copyright © 2015, CT Now