Friday, March 14, 2008

UPDATED: Is this a legal use of city staff and resources???

This morning, I received a press release from Brian Schwartz. It was sent to all media contacts and those who've asked to be added to the list of entities receiving City of Toledo Press Releases (like me).

From:
"Schwartz, Brian"Schwartz, "Brian"
Date: Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:42 AM
Subject: Request for assistance from the media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 13, 2008

Contact: Bob Reinbolt (419) 245-1007

(419) 654-2544

ASSISTANCE NEEDED IN LOCATING MISSING DOG

$1,000 REWARD OFFERED

Toledo, Ohio -- City of Toledo Chief of Staff, Robert Reinbolt, requests media assistance in notifying the public of his missing family pet. He is offering a $1,000 reward for her safe return.

Erin is a black and tan female mixed German Shepherd, weighing approximately 40 lbs. She has white on her chest and has a stubbed tail. She is not aggressive, but is timid around strangers.

She was last seen on March 10, heading north on Secor Road toward the Michigan border. Reports have ben (sic) received of a dog matching Erin's description in the Telegraph/Alexis, Douglas/Laskey, and Smith/Douglas areas.

Posters and advertisements have been placed in these areas and a $1,000 reward is offered for her safe return. Please call (419) 472-2594.

Erin is very small and the family fears she will not last long in the outdoors, so any assistance provided by local media to raise community awareness would be greatly appreciated by the Reinbolt family. Mr. Reinbolt understands the restrictions many media outlets have regarding this sort of request and appreciates any and all help he can get. As a strong pet lover, he encourages everyone seeing any stray dog to lend assistance as much as possible. To those who lose their pet, it is quite traumatic.


Since when did it become acceptable to use the resources of a city (money, staff, email, press contacts) to issue a notice of a lost dog for an employee? And is it legal to use these resources in this manner? If someone approaches a dog thinking it might be Reinbolt's, but it isn't, is the city then somehow liable for any bites that may result since they've encouraged citizens to approach stray animals? Think anyone ran this by the law department before issuing this release? And will they do this for other citizens?

Inquiring minds...

UPDATE: The Toledo Blade features this story on the front page of today's paper.

"“Am I using my position? Sure,” Mr. Reinbolt said yesterday.

“But I am going to do everything possible so we can get her back.”"


Two questions: 1) Since he admits he's using his position and city resources for a personal matter completely unrelated to the business of the city, should he be sanctioned in some way? 2) Could you imagine the impact if such city officials focused as much attention on a missing child - or in reducing the costs of city government?

Again, inquiring minds...

8 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

Somebody (obviously) needs a "time out..."

Say, 15 days without pay. . . ;-)


Whatta Putz!

toledo1 said...

Just when you think the things coming out of Government Center couldn't get any more ridiculous....

Carol said...

Maggie,

You know I'm an animal lover, but I certainly don't see the city of Toledo offering to put out a press release and flyers to TPD to help any of us 'commoners' to locate our missing pets.

I would be panicked if my dog were lost. But it would be MY responsibility to post flyers, search the streets, and try to enlist the help of my neighbors.

Brian got 15 days off for saying a bad word. How about Mr. Reinbolt get 30 days off for abuse of power?

I hope the Reinbolt's do find their dog - but I am so disappointed in this episode.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

I can't help but ask if Mr. Reinbolt's dog was properly licensed, which would aid in its recovery. I must also ask if the mayor's pooch Scout has any talents as a ... scout and could lead the search. Finally, I ask which part of the city budget the funding came from for the press release. I would hate to think that a policeman or fireman might be laid off to pay for this (since that appears to be the only place that money comes from).

It was bad enough when the city had gone to the dogs, now it appears that we can't find them.

Maggie Thurber said...

"It was bad enough when the city had gone to the dogs, now it appears that we can't find them."

Priceless....

Carol said...

Mr. Reinbolt's attitude is appalling.

He is not only giving us, the tax paying public, a middle finger salute, he is smiling about it with impunity.

In private industry this attitude of superiority and disrespect would earn Mr. Reinbolt a place in the unemployment line.

Brian Schwartz said...

Some have come down hard on Reinbolt for “abusing” city resources. Here are the facts:

Few of us have access to city-wide email. One person is his secretary. He asked his secretary to send an email to all city employees. She probably invested five minutes in this task.

Bob ASKED me (not ordered me as has been reported on some news outlets) if I could use my contacts in the media. I told him I’d be happy to and told him to type up something. He typed up a draft of the release that went out (at home, on his own time) and brought it in to me. I revised it some, attached the photo, and sent it out. My time invested amounted to about ten minutes.

I am going to find out how much I earn in 10 minutes and then donate that amount to the Humane Society so people will know that I didn’t get paid for the time I spent helping a man reunite with his dog.

If sending out that press release that directly helped a man find his beloved dog is what I am going to be criticized for, then I am happy to take that criticism.

Maggie Thurber said...

Brian - you and your bosses can try to justify this all you want by saying 'it was only' a small amount of time.

The point is that Reinbolt used city resources for something that was not related to city business.

One minute, one hour, one day...it's still wrong. And it opens the door for other people to use the same excuse for doing the exact thing.

Please note - taking the money you are paid by the taxpayers and donating it the Humane Society doesn't change the fact that you got paid in the first place. No matter how you slice it, unless your pay is docked, you got paid with taxpayer dollars to do something not related to city business.

I can't help but think of Animal Farm ... 'some are more equal than others.' Carty with his dog and now Reinbolt with his.

No amount of justification will change the fact that city resources were used inappropriately.

BTW - what's the city's policy on email??? Last time I saw it (and that's been a while), it contained a prohibition against using the city's email for personal purposes.

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