City coverage focused on controversy
To the editor: I want to address recent articles in The News-Item regarding the City of Shamokin's council workshop on Jan. 2.
Over the past several years that I have been mayor, reporting by The News-Item on council meetings has resulted in the reporting of controversy where none existed. The article of Jan. 3 is a perfect example. As the meeting began, I addressed The News-Item reporter regarding the recent article about my salary and the amount I am paid monthly. I specifically noted that my salary is $4.17 more a month than the other councilman. Further, it was noted that I forgo all health benefits from the city. I rely on Medicaid and Medicare, just like other senior citizens. I made a specific request that both of these items be mentioned in the article; neither appeared. And it appeared to me that the newspaper reporter was annoyed by my request.
The article that was printed went on to portray me as being irritated regarding Treasurer Brenda Scandle's comments and the discussions had the makings of becoming quite heated before the topic was mutually dismissed. Once again, The News-Item reporter tried to depict a controversy at City Hall where none really exists.
Another recent example of creating controversy where none exists was the night of the Traci Cecco-Pickens event. The city made arrangements to host a special event off-site involving Cecco-Pickens, Yamaha Corporation USA and Northumberland County officials, which are all working together for the betterment of the community. We are partnering with these groups on the AOAA and the story of goodwill and potential business development in the region with Yamaha should have been highlighted. The News-Item decided to bury it inside of the paper and chose a different front page article that would be more controversial, and sell more papers.
The city invites you to our table to report on the events and deliberations of our meetings, recognizing your right as newspaper reporters to be there to capture the story. But with that right comes the charge of responsible reporting and not sensationalizing the smallest quibble for the sake of selling papers. The city has made many changes and improvements under my leadership. I have never backed down from an issue or, when confronted on a controversial decision, shied away from the topic. I will continue to govern in the same manner and will move the city forward regardless of the naysayers.
In closing, I want to address the treasurer's comments regarding discrimination at City Hall. The city, in less than 11 months, has hired three female employees. Each of these employees has been given a salary and offered full benefits. None of these employees has completed a year in full-time service to date. These employees, along with others, receive full and thoughtful consideration, not only by me, but from the entire council, in these matters. As a practical matter and as is common in other government and private industry settings, employees are evaluated annually and provided increases on meritorious service and/or cost of living. The city will evaluate all personnel on an annual basis to determine if their service deserves recognition and merit increases.
As far as the current treasurer is concerned, I personally feel that her performance, including her past false sensationalism of the city's finances, does not warrant an increase in salary. Nevertheless, I am only one vote, and I leave the other councilmen to vote their own mind and conscience.
George S. Rozinskie Jr.
City of Shamokin