December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria mayor places ads to promote ‘unbiased’ blog

ELYRIA — Mayor Holly Brinda has begun writing a blog about city matters and answering questions from residents, but some have taken issue with Brinda using city funds to advertise the blog.

Brinda

Brinda

An advertisement for the blog appeared in the May 12 edition of The Chronicle-Telegram and again Sunday.

The ad reads: For the rest of the story, read Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda’s new blog. www.cityofelyria.org. Factual, Real Time, Unbiased City News & Information.

It does not include any wording that says how it was paid for or by whom. But Brinda acknowledged Monday that she paid for the ad using funds from her city office account.

Brinda said she decided to place the advertisement because she wanted residents to know about her blog and hoped it would generate traffic to the city’s website.

“I absolutely think this is a good use of city funds,” she said. “It’s a communication to residents and the more we can communicate the better.”

Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, said he doesn’t have a problem with the mayor communicating with voters as long as the message is not politically motivated to benefit her.

“I’m fine if she wants to update residents, but we should not pay to advertise her personal opinion page,” he said.

A link to Brinda’s blog first appeared on the city’s website on May 8, one day before the public release of a performance audit conducted by Ohio Auditor David Yost’s office. In her first posting, Brinda explained why the city decided to undergo the audit, encouraged residents to read the audit in its entirety and email her directly with any questions.

Since then, Brinda has used the blog to expound on why she and some City Council members differ on the need to re-examine the area of emergency medical services and if the city will adopt the recommendations of the audit.

“The major point to be made today is that every step we are taking is intended to make the best use of YOUR precious tax dollars,” Brinda wrote a week ago.

She also touches on lighter topics such as her appearance at a local celebrity cooking event at Lorain County Community College and the efforts of Elyrians on Pride Day.

Brinda is the only writer of the blog.

“It is the responsibility of the mayor to articulate the administration’s position on a lot of different issues and social media is a great format to do that,” she said.

However, the ad does not state tax dollars were used to pay for its placement and that has Councilman Garry Gibbs, R-3rd Ward, worried about the message it will send to voters.

“Residents have the right to know and expect that their tax dollars are being spent for necessities, not the mayor’s personal agenda items,” he said. “With the city millions behind in our neighborhood roads and infrastructure maintenance programs, I’d have to say that’s not being very frugal with taxpayer funds.”

Brinda said the she plans to run another ad when the city’s website is updated to allow residents to file complaints directly online. She also plans to create a Facebook page for the city as well as put out an e-newsletter to residents.

Craig said something like the blog could be seen as self-promotion and should be paid for with funds from Brinda’s campaign coffers.

“It becomes a sticky situation because you have to ask yourself if this is for the benefit of the residents or the benefit of the mayor,” he said. “Her blog is solely her viewpoint. I don’t see how that’s not biased.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.