Saturday, June 23, 2012

Prepare For The Revolution, A.K.A. Spin, Spin, And More Spin

What is the priority of organizations that are mired in embarrassing public revelations about fraudulent spending of taxpayers' money? The development of a good PR plan.

At least that is what I gleaned from Part Three of The Star's investigation of the Toronto District School Board and its relationship with the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council run by Jimmy Hazel.

While the story details the cozy relationship that exists between Hazel and the board, including ordering his members to campaign for and donate money to the trustees and the provincial Liberals during elections, (with real consequences for those who refuse,) the most interesting aspect to me is the reaction of both the board and Hazel's organization.

At a private meeting Wednesday of school board trustees, where the Star’s investigation was discussed, [trustee Sheila] Ward told those in attendance that “trustees should be muzzled” until the TDSB has a solid communications plan in place to deal with the Star stories. Note that the response is to deal with the stories, not the problems the stories uncovered.

Not to be outdone, Jimmy Hazel appears to be following the same strategy:

Hazel, who initially unleashed a profanity-filled tirade on a Star reporter, has hired Ross Parry, a former official in the Liberal government. Hazel said Parry is helping him fine-tune his responses to the media. Parry, who was also the TDSB communications chief in the late 1990s, is helping Hazel put “all the information we collected into prose.”

None of this is the least bit surprising to me, given the cynicism I have expressed about organizational behaviour in this blog and my other one many times over the years. What does surprise me, however, is their openness in detailing how they plan to deal with the messenger, not the message.

And the wheel goes round....

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