Thursday, September 20, 2012

Parks and Recreation Department Disdains Freedom of the Press

I routinely get press releases from several City of El Paso Departments - both for my newman park blog and my elpasonaturally blog. Associated with both blogs are two e-letters that people subscribe to: elpasonaturally and Hola Vecinos, the Newman Park Association and friends letter. Today, Mr. Wayne Thornton, Public Relations Director for the City's Parks and Recreation Department, refused to put me on his press release distribution list because I'm "not media"/"not press". I wouldn't have thought to have asked him about it except that a reader of my neighborhood association letter asked why I had not included the Arts in the Park event this weekend sponsored by the Parks Department. I didn't because I hadn't heard about it. I certainly would have promoted this event at Memorial Park, if I had known. Apparently, I won't know about future parks and recreation events because I'm "not media"/"not press" according to Mr. Wayne Thornton, who by the way writes a delightful column for the El Paso Times and who, therefore, should have a stronger value of freedom of the press.

I not only think that the Parks and Recreation Department's refusal is wrong - it is wrong on so many levels. First, I'm a member (appointed by City Council) of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. For no other reason, you think that I would receive the courtesy. Next, other City Departments have no problem including me. Third, as a citizen (and, yes, as someone who publishes and distributes to subscribers, i.e., PRESS), my civil rights have been violated not to mention the slander involved. Finally, if this matter isn't resolved to my satisfaction, I believe that the Open Records laws of the State of Texas have been violated and that the Attorney General of this State should become involved.

To think - all I wanted to do was to promote a Parks event and help get the word out to a wider audience. Silly me.

Jim Tolbert
Publisher of elpasonaturally and Hola Vecinos

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